David Beckham is the latest celebrity to pay tribute to basketball legend Kobe Bryant. In a heartfelt Instagram post, the 44-year-old former footballer said it had "taken [him] hours to work out what to write." He continued: "Still my words won’t ever be enough to describe how I am feeling after the tragic loss of Kobe."
Describing Bryant as "one special athlete, husband, father, and friend," Beckham touched on how the 41-year-old basketball player was a personal inspiration. "The commitment Kobe showed to his sport was inspiring, to go through the pain and to finish a game off like only he could inspired me to try to be better," he wrote. "Sometimes I would only go to games just to watch that clock go down to the last 2:00 minutes knowing that we were about to witness something special."
Bryant died in a helicopter crash in California on Jan. 26 along with eight others, including the pilot. Identities of the victims have been formally released, showing that Bryant's 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, also died in the accident, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Beckham said it was "heartbreaking" to know "we have lost an amazing human being and his beautiful and talented daughter." He recalled how Bryant "always talked about [his wife] Vanessa and his beautiful girls and how proud he was of them."
Beckham, who attended Bryant's final LA Lakers game in 2016, continued by saying: "Kobe’s passion was his family and basketball. He was determined to inspire the next generation of boys and girls to embrace the sport that he loved. His legacy will live on. My family’s love and prayers go out to Vanessa and the girls, to Kobe’s basketball family, and of course to the families of those who were tragically lost with him yesterday."
Beckham's emotional words follows tributes from the likes of Barack Obama and fellow NBA legends Shaquille O'Neal and Michael Jordan. "There are no words to express the pain I’m going through now," O'Neal wrote on Instagram. Obama tweeted: "Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents."