DALLAS — WNBA Icon Nancy Lieberman was at an event Sunday morning when her son called.
"And he said, 'Mom,' I could hear it in his voice," she said. "He says, 'Mom, sit down, I am going to cry again,' and he goes, 'Mom, sit down.' And I asked what was wrong and he said, 'Mom, Kobe died.'
"And I said, 'No, I just talked to him,' and he goes:
"'Kobe died in a helicopter.'"
Lieberman had spoken to Bryant on Saturday night — just hours before he died in a Sunday morning helicopter crash in southern California.
"I just about fell on the floor. I was bawling yesterday morning,” Lieberman said.
Bryant had invited her to fly to California to coach his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who was also onboard the helicopter when it crashed.
Lieberman said she was supposed to go to California this coming Wednesday and fly in the very helicopter Bryant died in.
"He said, 'Come, you will stay at the house and then we will go from Newport Beach...and we will get on the copter and go to the Mamba Academy and you will put the kids through practice with me.'"
Bryant was a big advocate for women's basketball. Gianna was being groomed to go into the WNBA.
“I was with them at the Final Four a year ago and we sat together and talked about her and she was set to go on to the University of Connecticut and she just wanted to be great. To have that at 13 was special.”
Lieberman said Gianna wanted to carry on her father's legacy.
"She had the Mamba mentality. She had the mind of Kobe, which, you can't always get that."
Lieberman wants people to know that Bryant was more than a basketball icon. He was also a loving father and friend.
"He was what we would hope a friend would be. He was loyal. He was protective and he cared.
"Anybody who met Kobe Bryant was a better person for it."
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