Phillips 66 National Swimming Championships
Phillips 66 National Swimming Championships

‘Heroic’: Kobe’s final text from chopper

One of the more remarkable stories told at Kobe Bryant's memorial service on Tuesday came from his best friend, Rob Pelinka.

Pelinka, who was Bryant's longtime agent before becoming the LA Lakers general manager, texted and talked with the basketball legend daily for 20 years.

It continued right up until the five-time NBA champion's final day, when Pelinka said "the axis of the world seemed to shift forever, for all of us".

Pelinka was in church as Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others were aboard a helicopter flying to a youth basketball tournament, when his phone buzzed with a text notification.

"I slipped it out of my jeans and discovered the text was from Kobe. There was nothing uncharacteristic or unfamiliar about this," Pelinka said.

"For the last two decades, Kobe and I talked or texted every single day, because that's what best friends do.

"In that moment, my instincts were to put the phone down and get back to the preacher's sermon but a gentle otherworldly nudge compelled me to open the text, so I did.

"I quickly saw that Kobe was asking me if I happened to know a certain baseball agent based in Southern California."

"Since Kobe's message didn't have any urgency to it, I decided I'd wait until after church to respond.

"But then again, there was a gentle nudge. I grabbed my phone and texted Kobe back that I'd seen the baseball agent at a Lakers game just the other night, and was happy to help him with whatever he wanted.

"It was now just past 9:30am. Kobe texted back explaining his desire to help a friend of his secure a baseball agency internship for one of his young daughters. Kobe vouched for the girl's character, intellect and work ethic. He clearly wanted to champion a bright future for her. I texted Kobe right back and said I would put a plan in motion to help him get that done."

Kobe Bryant and Rob Pelinka. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant and Rob Pelinka. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Moments later the helicopter Bryant was on crashed in Calabasas, killing everyone on board.

The dead included the parents and younger sister of Alexis Altobelli, the teenager Bryant was asking for help for.

"Kobe's last human act was heroic," Pelinka said. "He wanted to use his platform to bless and shape a young girl's future. Hasn't Kobe done that for all of us? Kobe was literally the best friend anyone could ever ask for. He always championed and passionately celebrated the accomplishments of others and downplayed his own. The man who had won multiple NBA titles, MVPs and an Oscar would buzz with excitement when someone he loved would reach even a simple goal. With any achievement, Kobe was always the first to call. This was one of his greatest gifts as a friend and something I will forever miss."


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