Jamie Foxx Says He Motivated Kobe Bryant to Get His Fifth Championship Ring
By Desiree Murphy
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Jamie Foxx is remembering his late friend Kobe Bryant. During Wednesday's episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the 52-year-old actor joked about the "incredible cantankerous relationship" he shared with Bryant, who died earlier this year in a helicopter crash.
"We would always go after each other," Foxx recalled. "I remember he came to see my show, when I was doing a show in Los Angeles, and my whole group was Lakers fans. Now, obviously, I was a Mavericks fan. And Kobe heard, 'Mavericks? Mavericks? I thought you was a winner.' So [from there] we started going after each other, back and forth."
Foxx said they then went into a conversation about which NBA players could "handle" Bryant on the court.
"He said, 'Oh, they can't handle me, the Celtics can't handle me.' And I said, 'LeBron James,'" Foxx remembered, calling out Bryant's fiercest competitor. "But then, he didn't stay for my show! He got so pissed."
Turns out, that conversation motivated Bryant to work even harder at perfecting his skills, which eventually earned him his fifth and final championship ring with the Lakers in 2010.
"Kobe says, 'I ain't even going to stay for your show. I'm going to go work out,'" Foxx said. "He went across the street, because it was the Staples Center, and he started working out. After that we started texting, going back and forth, and I said, 'You ain't going to be ready for the season, what's up with Ron Artest,' all these different things."
"I say, 'You ain't going to make it,' and he texts me back. He says, 'Do you have some water? You're gonna need it 'cause you're gonna choke on my fifth ring.'"
As Foxx and so many sports fans remember, Bryant of course went on to victoriously win that fifth ring.
"That's a story that I could say that, when you look at the lay of the land, and what has transpired, how he was taken from us so fast, man, I cherish that story," Foxx said.
Back in January, just days after Bryant's tragic death, ET spoke with former MLB star Alex Rodriguez, who shared his own fond memories of the NBA legend. Bryant's 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, also died in the crash.
"You know, I still can't get my head around it," Rodriguez said at the time. "It's such a cruel thing. Timing never been worse, I mean, 41. Here's a guy that was entering the prime of his life, Gianna, who I knew well, Vanessa and his whole family, you know, but also to mention the other victims on the helicopter."
"From a personal point of view, I was just texting with Kobe about my New Year's party in L.A.," he continued. "He came to Jennifer [Lopez]'s last show. We had such a quiet friendship, and Kobe was like that with so many. He whispered in your ear. He never wanted credit. He was the toughest human being I've ever met, but one of the kindest, and one of the smartest, and he came on my podcast last year and I just love him to death. He was like a younger brother and he inspired me and I learned so much from him. My prayers go out for him and Vanessa and obviously all of Lakers Nation."