Kobe Bryant’s former teammate Rick Fox is speaking out about erroneous reports that stated he too was on the helicopter that crashed and killed the NBA legend, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others Sunday in Calabasas, California.
“My family went through in the midst of all this something I couldn’t have imagined them experiencing,” he said Tuesday night on TNT during a special honoring the former Los Angeles Lakers star.
“One of my daughter’s greatest fears is finding out that a parent or one of her parents would be lost through social media instead of from a loved one or a family member and she fortunately called me. We were just talking and crying about the news of Kobe,” said Fox, 50.
Fox, who was Bryant’s teammate with the Lakers for seven seasons, said people started to reach out to him after word leaked that he was on the plane.
“I was talking to my kids, just trying to spend the time with them, and then the phone just started going off. I’m thinking to myself, 'Everybody wants to talk about Kobe, and I right now want to be with my kids and my family,'” he said.
Fox, who won three titles with Bryant, said he had a conversation with his best friend, Monmouth University men’s basketball coach King Rice, who was frantically trying to reach him.
“(Rice) walked off the court at Iona, and somebody apparently told him that I may have been on the helicopter, and he started calling,” Fox said. “So, I’m seeing King’s number repeatedly going and going and going and think he’s worried about me, so I said I’m gonna talk to my best friend.
"I answered and said, ‘Hey, man, this is crazy about Kobe, and he was just bawling. And I started crying. He was like, ‘You’re alive,’ and I’m thinking, ‘Well, yeah. Like, what do you mean?’ And it was in that moment that my phone just started going and my mom and my sister and my brother and so, look, this has been a lot to process for all of us.”
Fox said the whole matter has rattled him.
“Quite frankly, we’re blessed to have had the time we had with Kobe. A city is mourning, a family’s mourning. We’re all mourning. I’m glad that’s over with, but it’s hard to deal with because it shook a lot of people in my life,” he said.