Kobe Bryant came through for Adam Morrison when he was at a low point in his life.
Morrison played limited minutes for the Lakers alongside Bryant from 2008-2010 before he was released in 2010. Morrison never played in the NBA again, and spiraled into a bad head space the following year.
"I wasn’t playing, obviously, and career was in the s--- and my personal life wasn't great, I was really depressed," Morrison said on the Rejecting The Screen podcast. "I was basically a hermit in my own house. I didn’t go out in the community at all and if I did, people were asking you, ‘Why aren’t you playing?’
"I was 26 at the time, number three pick [in the 2006 NBA draft], a really low point in my life, and I got a text from Robert Lara, the Lakers security and one of Kobe’s best friends. He said ‘Hey, what’s your address, I’ve got something in the mail for you.’"
Morrison assumed he was getting a magazine from Lara, whom he had a friendship with during his time with the Lakers.
"I get the package, and it’s an autographed jersey from Didier Drogba, who was my favorite player," Morrison said. "I’m a Chelsea fan. It was from Kobe. A game-worn jersey, signed by Didier Drogba, ‘To Adam, Best Wishes.’"
Morrison always thought that Bryant had made a phone call to acquire the signed Drogba jersey. He didn't find out what really happened until after Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26 along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people.
"The night he passed, I’m scrolling through, reading everything, and I'm emotional," Morrison said. "And on Chelsea’s Instagram page, it’s him with Didier Drogba holding up a jersey and it says ‘To Adam, Best Wishes.’ So he went up to my favorite player, got it signed for me without me even asking, and sent it to me when he knew I was low. It's unbelievable. I still have the jersey. That's what Kobe Bryant was, man. He was just one of those dudes who understood his own aura and could sense when people were down."
Morrison said he was lucky to play alongside Bryant, a five-time NBA champion, two-time Finals MVP and one-time regular season MVP. Bryant was posthumously elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Saturday.
He detailed how he gained Bryant's respect.
"Just playing hard in practice and not kissing his ass, if that's the right way to put it," Morrison said. "I think he was such a smart, highly intelligent person. He could tell if guys were kissing his ass and trying to buddy-buddy up to him. I just treated him a like a normal teammate and he treated me the same. If you showed up everyday and played hard and competed against him and put in the work, he loved guys like that."
They also bonded over their shared interests outside of basketball.
They used to talk about films and politics. Morrison said Bryant immediately made him feel welcome on the Lakers and always publicly defended him.
Morrison said he's never seen someone work as hard as Bryant, adding that Bryant inspired him and everyone else to look in the mirror and wonder if they were giving their all in life.
"It was pretty special to be around somebody like that," he said.