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Lakers' Rob Pelinka Says Kobe, Gianna Bryant's Deaths Left 'Irreplaceable Void'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 30, 2020

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 25:  Rob Pelinka and Kobe Bryant talks during the game between the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers on October 25, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Andrew D. Bernstein/Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, the longtime agent and friend of Kobe Bryant, released a statement Thursday reflecting on the death of Bryant and Bryant's daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash.

He wrote, in part:

"On Sunday, I lost my best friend and my sweet goddaughter. With that, there has been an amputation of part of my soul. 

...

"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 be 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."

Nine people in total died in the crash, including the Bryants: Sarah and Payton Chester; John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli; Christina Mauser; and Ara Zobayan.

"Maya Angelou once wrote, 'When great trees fall ... lions hunker down in tall grasses,'" Pelinka said in the statement. "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."

Pelinka's remarks come a day after the Lakers released a statement:

"We are devastated and have been forever changed by the sudden loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. We send our love to Vanessa, the Bryant family, and to the families of the other passengers. Words cannot express what Kobe means to the Los Angeles Lakers, our fans, and our city. More than a basketball player, he was a beloved father, husband, and teammate. Their love and light will remain in our hearts forever."

Team governor Jeanie Buss also released a statement Thursday. She wrote, in part:

"Kobe, I don't know how to express what you mean to me, my family and the Los Angeles Lakers.

"My father [Jerry Buss] loved you like a son, which makes us family. When you invited me to lunch shortly after my father passed away, I was struggling to find motivation and purpose. Kobe, you brought Gianna with you to spend some time with me. You explained that you wanted to show her that women can be leaders in the NBA, just like the men.

"At first, it seemed like an action of a devoted father setting an example for his daughter. But in actuality—and I am positively sure you knew EXACTLY what you were doing—what you did was give me the inspiration and strength I was searching for. I reflect on that day often and it makes me smile and it makes me strong. I call on that memory whenever I feel down and need a bit of courage.

"For everything you did on the court that filled me with so much joy and love, for all the lives you changed through basketball itself, it was that day with Gigi that reignited my drive and determination."

The Lakers have yet to play since Bryant died Sunday. The NBA postponed the team's matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night. They return to action on Friday night at 10:30 p.m. ET against the Portland Trail Blazers.

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