Justin Timberlake posted a lengthy tribute to L.A. Lakers legend Kobe Bryant on Instagram Monday, honoring their yearslong friendship.
Accompanying a series of photos of them throughout the years, Timberlake wrote, "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."
The singer added that as the years went on, they began to trade "old man" jokes back and forth, but he says Kobe never "stopped aiming to inspire him."
"Your confidence in me was huge -- it really affected me because I admired you so much," he continued. "I don’t mean as one of the greatest athletes ever. I mean as a person."
Timberlake shared that the last conversation he had with Bryant was "about being fathers and what that meant."
"That was, beyond all the things that we could do in this world, our true legacy," he wrote. "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."
Timberlake sent his love to Kobe’s widow Vanessa and their family, concluding, "Champ, MVP, Legend, Hero, Inspiration, Father, Friend. I’m gonna miss you, brother. Mamba forever."
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people died Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles.
The NBA legend leaves behind three other daughters: 17-year-old Natalia, three-year-old Bianka and seven-month-old Capri.