Novak Djokovic broke down while paying tribute to the late Kobe Bryant, saying the NBA great was “there for him” when he needed advice and support.
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people died in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday.
Djokovic posted an Instagram tribute to the former Los Angeles Lakers star on Monday.
“My heart truly mourns over the news today,” he wrote. “Kobe was a great mentor and friend.”
After his quarter-final clash against Milos Raonic on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday, the 16-time Grand Slam winner was asked about Bryant and described him as “one of the greatest athletes of all time”.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 28, 2020
“I don’t know what we could say. It really caught us by surprise,” he said during his on-court interview.
“He was one of the greatest athletes of all time, he inspired myself and many other people around the world. I had that fortune to have a personal relationship with him over the last 10 years.
“When I needed some advice and support, he was there for me. He was my mentor, my friend, it’s just heartbreaking to see what has happened to him and his daughter. It’s unbelievable.”
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