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Jeanie Buss pays tribute to Kobe Bryant in emotional Instagram post

Jeanie Buss and Kobe Bryant forged a strong bond over the years, and the Los Angeles Lakers co-owner and CEO has expressed her thoughts on the NBA legend’s tragic death for the first time publicly in an emotional Instagram post.

Buss shared a photo in the post of herself along with some members of the Bryant family from a trip to the 2016 NBA All-Star Game. She opened her words with, “I don’t know how to express what you mean to me, my family and the Los Angeles Lakers.”

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Kobe, I don’t know how to express what you mean to me, my family and the Los Angeles Lakers. My father 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. Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri – I am so sorry for your loss. We are grateful to have you in our lives and we will always be here for you. To the families that also lost loved ones on Sunday, the entire Laker family mourns with you. Laker Nation – we are one family grieving the loss of people we all loved dearly. We will mourn together, cry together but we will also heal together, love together and win TOGETHER. We love you. : : : To learn more about how you can help the families affected by this tragedy go to MambaOnThree.org and to further Kobe and Gianna’s legacy in youth sports visit MambaSportsFoundation.org #peace #love #joy #family #Mamba #Mambacita #2 #8 #24 : : Picture taken in February 2016 on the way to #NBAAllStar game in #Toronto

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Buss writes how a meeting with Kobe and daughter Gianna shortly after her father’s death — which Kobe said was to show his daughter that women can be leaders in the NBA — gave her “the inspiration and strength I was searching for” amid her mourning.

“Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri – I am so sorry for your loss,” Buss continues. “We are grateful to have you in our lives and we will always be here for you. To the families that also lost loved ones on Sunday, the entire Laker family mourns with you. Laker Nation – we are one family grieving the loss of people we all loved dearly. We will mourn together, cry together but we will also heal together, love together and win TOGETHER. We love you.”

Buss closes her post — much like Vanessa Bryant did in her first public words since Kobe, Gianna and seven others lost their lives in Sunday’s helicopter crash — by imploring people to visit MambaOnThree.org to learn how they can help the families impacted by the tragedy.

There obviously has been no shortage of mourning, heartbreak and grief expressed in the aftermath of Sunday’s horrible accident. Buss has always thought the world of Kobe, and she is hurting now just like every other person whose life was touched by the late Lakers icon.