Kobe Bryant, a five-time NBA champion with the Lakers, formed a friendship with John Altobelli, the baseball coach at Orange Coast College. Their daughters played together on a basketball team at the Mamba Sports Academy.
Altobelli asked Bryant to speak to his team last season. He then asked Bryant to provide some words of wisdom to his players.
Bryant obliged and wrote a text message to Altobelli on March 27, 2019. The message was printed out and hung in the team's dugout below a photo of Bryant, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.
“By all means, Feel sorry for yourself," Bryant wrote in the message, according to ESPN. "By all means make excuses. By all means feel discouraged. By all means don’t play like this game is the most important thing to you. By all means entertain yourself with other sh*t because the game of baseball will be here forever and you will have infinite opportunities to play this game. You will [have] infinite opportunities to put on your gear, feel the glove, the ball, etc. The game of baseball will wait for you. Life will wait for you.
“It’s not as life can be taken away from you at any moment. Nooo that would be crazy, that would be cruel. Right? So, by all means, play the game as if [you] will have all the swings you can dream of and when the day comes when you realize baseball, that life doesn’t work that way, you will understand that the best [way] to play is by ANY MEANS necessary. By any means. No excuses. No waiting. F*ck patience. F*ck injuries and f*ck THEM. PLAY as if every at bat may be ur last because it very f*cking well could be. So let’s make every single f*cking one count. Lets go get these f*ckers!”
It's a haunting text from Bryant about the fragility of life.
Ten months after writing that message, Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died alongside John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, 46, and their daughter Alyssa, 14, in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.
Bryant was an 18-time All-Star, two-time Finals MVP and one-time regular season MVP in 2008 over his 20 seasons with the Lakers.
After he retired in 2016, he poured himself into storytelling, winning an Oscar in 2018 for his short film 'Dear Basketball,' which was based on a poem he wrote.
Above all else, Bryant was a devoted father to his four children. When the helicopter crashed, Bryant was headed to the Mamba Sports Academy, where he was going to coach Gianna in a basketball game.