Over on his Instagram account, the entertainer, 38, posted a string of photos of the pair, but the accompany caption painted a more detailed story than the shots. "We met when we were both teenagers and bonded over our drive and process. I was in awe of what you could do with a basketball and knew your talent went beyond your physical gifts and stretched to your mentality," Timberlake wrote, admitting that he would use that mentality throughout his career and still does. "As the years went by, I watched you do things that seemed humanly unimaginable. And, through ups and downs, championships and injuries, you still remained with an unwavering resolve about your mentality to remain fierce to competition. But, every time we would speak or text, something started to change... your patience and ease grew. And it inspired me to continue to grow for myself."
As the years passed, Timberlake and Bryant would trade "old man" jokes with one another and even shared nicknames. "We joked about 'The Vino Club.' You nicknamed yourself ‘Vino’ to represent how one could age gracefully as a fine wine does. But, you never stopped aiming to inspire me. Your confidence in me was huge - it really affected me because I admired you so much. I don’t mean as one of the greatest athletes ever. I mean as a person," he continued. "People sometimes can confuse a will to win with a lack of compassion. That wasn’t you. You had both qualities."
During their last conversation together, JT said that the two spoke about the significance of being fathers as "that was, beyond all the things that we could do in this world, our true legacy." "Who our children are and what beautiful people they will become. And, I guess right now, without being able to find all the words, THAT father connection is what is most devastating for me. I am sending my love to Vanessa and your family and to the families of everyone connected in the mourning of this terrible tragedy," he wrote, adding, "My heart is broken and my family lifts you up in our thoughts and prayers.
"Kobe... You have connected so many of us. The Mamba Mentality will last for all of time. I know that will be a source for me every day as it has been for so many days before. Your legacy is with us. It’s our responsibility to pass it down now. I hope you I can continue to make you proud, Vino. Champ, MVP, Legend, Hero, Inspiration, Father, Friend. I’m gonna miss you, brother. Mamba forever," he concluded.
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