On the night that Dwyane Wade’s number was retired, the Miami Heat legend took time to pay tribute to his one-time rival and good friend, Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash last month.
Dwyane Wade pays tribute to Kobe Bryant: "Kobe said the most important thing is to try to inspire others so they could be great in whatever they choose to do. I hope I've inspired all of you. Thank you for making me a part of your legacy. Please know you are a huge part of mine."
— Heat Nation (@HeatNationCom) February 23, 2020
Bryant had already won three consecutive NBA titles by the time Wade entered the NBA in 2003. While Wade would also end his stellar career with three championships, Bryant went on to acquire two more in 2009 and 2010.
Both Bryant and Wade were part of the 2008 Team USA squad that captured the gold medal at the Beijing Summer Olympics.
Yet, Bryant’s impact on Wade clearly went beyond the court. That’s why Bryant’s death, along with that of his daughter, Gianna, and seven others, resonated so deeply in the basketball community.
Bryant had highly publicized trouble prior to the start of Wade’s first season in 2003.
However, he recovered and became a model citizen who was devoted to his family.
Wade’s devotion to his own family has long been in evidence, with his children being a central part of his life. That love and support came more clearly into focus in recent weeks with Wade’s open support of his transgender daughter Zaya.
A memorial service for Bryant, his daughter and the seven other victims of the Jan. 26 tragedy will be held Monday at Staples Center. Given his deep connection to Bryant, it seems likely that Wade will be in attendance for the sad occasion.