Kobe Bryant Remembered by Lakers GM Rob Pelinka: 'There Has Been an Amputation of Part of My Soul'
By Jennifer Drysdale
Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images
The deaths of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, have hit Rob Pelinka hard.
The Los Angeles Lakers Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager released a statement on the tragedy on Thursday, remembering his "best friend" and goddaughter. As he said, "There has been an amputation of part of my soul."
"Kobe was a force of nature, deep and obsessed with excellence. He was wise, determined, passionate. A visionary beyond measure. A dedicated and loving husband, and a 'girl-dad' like no other," his statement read. "When he walked into a room, the energy ignited. He was high voltage, with a motor that had no limits. His mind has an infinite capacity to learn. He was, simply put, the most inspirational athlete of our time. What the world may not know, is that he was also the best friend anyone could ever imagine."
"Gigi was pure joy. Her smile brought comfort to any and every occasion. She was brilliant, kind and warm. And, like her dad, when she stepped onto the basketball court, she took on an entirely different nature, and boy could she play," he remembered. "Her basketball destiny was apparent, and the world knew it. She was also an extraordinary, loyal and supportive sister, and a wonderful friend to my children. My son and daughter always left time with Gigi feeling better about life itself. Everything Gigi stood for, I am so proud of."
Pelinka continued, "What I am daily learning is that after the tragic loss of these nine souls, life on this side of eternity will never be the same. For any of us who knew them, there is an irreplaceable void left behind."
"But I am also finding that there is a hope. For now, each new step for me will be full of deep love and prayers, as a heavy sorrow for Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka and Capri, and all the families involved, is slowly redeemed into something healed and new," he said. "I am coming to realize that nothing can separate any of us from the love and inspiration we've received from Kobe and Gianna, nothing at all."
Pelinka concluded: "Their lives have shown me that death has no victory. Last Sunday is not the end of the story. It's just a new beginning. Kobe and Gigi's legacies will live on -- and gain even more power and influence. All of us touched by them will now try to become torch carriers of their legacies. And, while we do that, we can be certain of this: Kobe and Gigi will continue on, forever, playing a joy-filled game of basketball in heaven above."
Pelinka, a former sports agent who represented Bryant and others, left Landmark Sports Agency in 2017 to become the Lakers GM.
Bryant and his daughter were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, on Sunday, alongside seven others. See more in the video below.