By the time Shareef O’Neal answered, the aircraft had already crashed in the mountains of Calabasas, California, killing Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others.
“You good fam?” the NBA great wrote at 8:19 a.m. on Instagram, the young O’Neal revealed in posting the exchange.
At 10:58 a.m., O’Neal answered that he had been figuring out his “next move” and inquired about Bryant, who teamed with his father to win three NBA titles in Los Angeles.
Authorities believe the copter went down around 10 a.m., People noted.
“I wish I didn’t sleep in so I could’ve talked to you,” O’Neal wrote in the post, which included a photo of him with Bryant. “I can’t even think straight right now.. I’m glad we got to bond over the years .. not only were you a great uncle you were a coach and a mentor to me too .. I love you man..thank you for everything you’ve done .. for this city , for the basketball world , and for me … I won’t let you down .. you always counted on me and lifted me up. Love you unc ❤️❤️.”
O’Neal also posted a conversation in which Bryant asked about his progress after the youngster underwent open heart surgery in December 2018 for a potentially fatal abnormality that kept him out last season.
Bryant encouraged O’Neal and promised to work out in the gym with him later.
“I’m crying while reading these messages over,” O’Neal wrote Sunday. ”… even when I was at my worst you checked in on me so often .. I really appreciate you for that because I needed that so much…. i was so defeated sittin in that hospital everyday and I thought my basketball life was over .. you brought a smile to my face.”
Jayne Kamin-Oncea via Getty Images