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Kobe Bryant’s encouraging message for ex-Lakers teammate days before his death

Kobe Bryant, Lakers

Tarik Black, a 6-foot-9 center who played in the NBA between 2014 and 2018, is not exactly a household name. Nevertheless, the former Kansas standout had the privilege of playing alongside the late Kobe Bryant during his brief stint with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Black recently spoke with Matt Trait of KUsports.com and revealed the chance encounter he had with Bryant just one week before the tragic helicopter crash.

“I actually got a chance to thank him for what he meant for my life,” the former Lakers big man said of Kobe Bryant. “And he just kept saying, ‘I’m proud of you.’ So it rocked me to my core when I heard about his passing.”

Black played just two seasons with the Lakers, serving as a part of the team’s second unit. He did not have much of an impact with the team, but for his part, the experience of being teammates with Bryant is something that he cherishes to this very day.

He became close with Kobe during their time together, and there is no doubt that the veteran provided a lot of valuable advice for a guy who was trying to figure things out in the NBA — both on a basketball and a personal level.

Black’s NBA career did not really pan out, but he has since made a name for himself playing overseas. Incidentally, he returned to the U.S. at the end of the most recent campaign, and it was when he bumped into Kobe — the first time they met each other since they were together with the Lakers. Little did Black know that it was also the last time he was going to see his buddy, so it is certainly great for him to have had a meaningful conversation with the Black Mamba at that time.