Lisa Leslie remembers friend Kobe Bryant as devotedly committed to his family and uniquely dedicated to the game of basketball.
The former Los Angeles Sparks star stopped by the new Just Women’s Sports Netlife podcast and talked with host Dawn Staley about the “void” Bryant left after his passing.
Leslie was first introduced to Bryant as the young star and his family was getting settled in Los Angeles.
“I just hit it off with the family,” recalls Leslie. “His mom reminded me of my mom.”
Shaya, Kobe’s sister, and Leslie quickly became friends.
“I am there talking basketball with Kobe and then I am over playing with Shaya and we’re going to the mall,” Leslie remembers of the early days at the Bryant home.
The basketball banter between Leslie and Bryant often centered on Michael Jordan, with Leslie remembering Bryant studiously watching Jordan games in his room.
The WNBA and NBA stars bonded over their work ethic, both being steadfast about their gym routine. “What meshed was that tenacity, that hard work, that passion.”
Training at the same facility, Leslie would periodically get updates from Bryant on his life as he evolved as a player and person. She recalls when the legendary Laker met his wife Vanessa Bryant, which was originally “tough for the family” as Bryant was young when they decided to marry.
“Nobody knew Vanessa was gonna be so amazing, she’s awesome,” says Leslie. “She was the right one and it was amazing.”
As the years went on, Leslie and Bryant would continue to keep in touch.
“I knew that Kobe was happy,” remembers Leslie. “It really was just about family.”
Hear more from Staley and Leslie on Bryant’s legacy on the latest episode of NETLIFE.