Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant was Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum’s favorite player growing up.
Tatum’s admiration for Bryant began at a young age; when Tatum would tell his mother, Brandy Cole-Barnes, that he wanted to be Bryant when he grew up. In high school, Tatum posted a thank-you note to Bryant on Instagram for inspiring him.
Many mourned the loss of Bryant, who passed away from a helicopter crash in January. In tribute to him, Tatum posted a series of photographs of himself and Bryant to Instagram, writing that he was “heartbroken” about the tragedy.
With the 2019-20 season set to resume on Thursday down in Orlando, Florida, Tatum is reminiscing about his “hero.”
Bryant’s death shook Tatum, who was actually spending time with his dad in New Orleans before the Celtics’ team bus was scheduled to leave when he heard that the Black Mamba had passed away in a helicopter crash.
Tatum is one of the best young scorers in the NBA. He made his first All-Star team this season. Averaging 23.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists for the Celtics while shooting 44.8 percent from the field, Tatum carried over his poor shooting from the first scrimmage into the first quarter.
Having shot a tragic 1-for-6 from the field against Oklahoma City, Tatum continued to struggle early against Phoenix.
Missing his opening four attempts from the field, Tatum found his way to the bench early in the first quarter. Smart replaced Tatum with 7:28 remaining, and the 22-year-old wing was reinserted three minutes later.