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Catherine Zeta-Jones shares memories of being Kobe Bryant's next-door neighbor

"His basketball court was my view. I watched his talent and dedication," Zeta-Jones wrote in an Instagram tribute.
/ Source: TODAY

Catherine Zeta-Jones has shared a touching tribute to her former neighbor Kobe Bryant, whom she met over two decades ago when they lived next door to one another in Pacific Palisades, a community on the west side of Los Angeles.

Zeta-Jones recalled her early memories of Bryant — who died at age 41 on Sunday in a helicopter crash — when his basketball career with the Los Angeles Lakers was just getting started.

"We met the day he moved in through his dog that started to, and continued to wander in my garden," she wrote Sunday on Instagram.

That was 24 years ago, the actress noted, calling to mind the No. 24 jersey Bryant wore during his career with the Lakers.

"His basketball court was my view," she said. "I watched his talent and dedication, yet how could I have known that he was to become what he became. Tragic news today. Being a Daddy today took his life and that of his precious daughter. Unimaginable loss to all. Love to the families. #24forKobe."

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Tributes are pouring in from people whose lives were touched by Bryant, whether as a friend or as an admirer.

President Trump tweeted, "Kobe Bryant, despite being one of the truly great basketball players of all time, was just getting started in life. He loved his family so much, and had such strong passion for the future. The loss of his beautiful daughter, Gianna, makes this moment even more devastating."

"Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act," wrote former President Barack Obama. "To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day."

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Fans have also been leaving tributes outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where Bryant played 20 seasons for the Lakers. The Grammy Awards, which took place inside the arena Sunday night, honored Bryant throughout the telecast. Host Alicia Keys paid tribute to Bryant at the start of the show with an emotional speech and a performance alongside Boyz II Men.

Hearts were also heavy across the NBA family. The Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs both took 24-second shot clock violations Sunday in honor of Bryant's basketball number. Other basketball teams also paid tribute to Bryant by writing messages on their shoes, taking a moment of silence and lighting up their arenas in the Lakers' purple and gold to remember the player known as "The Black Mamba."

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