Rob Pelinka, the Lakers vice president, basketball operations and general manager, released a statement on Thursday saying that he lost his best friend and his goddaughter on Sunday. They are the first words from Pelinka since the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others.
“On Sunday, I lost my best friend and sweet goddaughter. With that, there has been an amputation of part of my soul.”
Pelinka goes on describing the player, husband, “girl-dad” and best friend Bryant was.
“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. When he walked into a room, the energy ignited. He was high voltage, with a motor that had no limits. His mind had 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 best friend anyone could ever imagine.”
He then goes on describing the player and goddaughter Gigi was.
“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. 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.”
He goes on quoting Maya Angelou:
“Maya Angelou once wrote ‘when great trees fall... lions under hunker down in tall grasses.’ 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. 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.”
He finishes saying that Kobe and Gigi’s legacies will live on.
“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 carries 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.”
Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss also released a statement on Thursday on Instagram.