Add Colin Kaepernick’s name to the list of notables remembering Kobe Bryant on the day of the Laker legend’s death. Kaepernick took to Twitter on Sunday evening to express his sorrow and condolences:
I will remember Kobe as a basketball legend,a father& a man. Watching him&Gigi share their relationship with us is something I won’t ever forget. My heart aches for his wife, children& family. I hope the waves of love being sent to his family can ease some of the pain they feel.— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) January 27, 2020
“I will remember Kobe as a basketball legend, a father& a man,” Kaepernick wrote. “Watching him & Gigi share their relationship with us is something I won’t ever forget. My heart aches for his wife, children & family. I hope the waves of love being sent to his family can ease some of the pain they feel.”
Kaepernick and Bryant were both Nike athletes, and crossed paths at last year’s U.S. Open, where they watched Naomi Osaka.
Bryant was never as politically active as Kaepernick, who spent the final year of his NFL career kneeling to protest police brutality. Bryant retired just months before Kaepernick began his protest, but noted that had he still been in uniform, he would have protested:
“Yeah, I would have participated in it, for sure. I’m sure I would have gotten some flak for it. That’s fine,” he said in an interview with then-ESPN commentator Jemele Hill. “I think that Colin’s message was a very simple one. It was police brutality needs to stop. We need to take a look at that.”
In retirement, Bryant did begin speaking out politically in a way his idol Michael Jordan and other NBA legends before him never did.
Bryant supported Kaepernick on multiple occasions, noting that he believed Kaepernick is “the epitome of doing what he believes is right,” citing Kaepernick’s “bravery” and adding that he donated to Kaepernick’s fundraising campaigns:
Bryant also backed Nike for not abandoning Kaepernick during the former quarterback’s protest. "It's bigger than Nike, Nike's core value is the athlete itself and you have to stand by what that athlete believes in," Bryant said in September 2019. “If this is what the athlete believes in, this is what you support, so it doesn't complicate things much at all."
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