More stories about Kobe Bryant's faith are coming out in the aftermath of the tragic helicopter accident that killed him, his daughter, and seven other passengers in California last weekend.
Leaders of a sports ministry that was involved in outreach at the 2012 London Olympics are revealing an encounter they had with Bryant. In that conversation, he told them he had asked Jesus to be his savior.
"We were telling different guys about Crossfire basketball ministry, and Kobe was there," Randy Shepherd of Crossfire Ministry told WLOS News 13. "And I said Kobe, have you ever invited the Lord Jesus Christ to come into your life as your Lord and Savior? A question I've asked a lot of people from kids to the president, and he said, 'Yes I've done that'."
Some people have text me this afternoon and ask if we ever had a chance to witness to Kobe Bryant?....Jamie and I met and talked to him (Kobe) briefly in London, England in a hotel lobby at the Summer Olympics.....We said to Kobe "have you ever accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior and put your faith in Jesus" he said yes and we gave him a Crossfire testimony Gospel card and he took it graciously and took a picture with us...I never heard him talk about it or never heard him say he was a Christian publically...I pray he did know the Lord Jesus as his personal Savior and Lord...If you dont know Jesus today I pray you will repent and receive Jesus! The Bible says,"What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and lose his soul?"...Praying for the Bryant family and friends of Kobe today.
That's just one story of faith that's been revealed about the man the world will remember as a basketball legend who inspired so many others to chase their dreams and never give up.
During a 2015 interview with ESPN, Bryant spoke about his God-given talent and how he would like to be remembered.
"I want to be remembered as a player that didn't waste a moment. I didn't waste a day, and I felt extremely blessed by the God-given talent. At the same time, I didn't take it for granted. If I could be remembered as a person that was born with a lot of talent but did everything he could to try to overachieve and lived everyday as if he was the twelfth guy on the bench. I think that is a very powerful message to have and something that hopefully the players now and later choose to embody as well."
"I've always said that I wanted to be remembered as a player that didn't waste a moment ... didn't waste a day."
In December 2015, Kobe spoke on how he wanted to be remembered. pic.twitter.com/s2ChEm6yRW
— ESPN (@espn) January 27, 2020
One of the last things Bryant reportedly did before the fatal crash was visit Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church, according to KCAL-TV in Los Angeles.
Father Steve Sallot spoke briefly to Bryant that morning before the 7 a.m. Mass.
"We shook hands, and I saw that he had blessed himself because there was a little holy water on his forehead," Sallot said. "So I knew that he'd gone into the chapel to pray and came out and blessed himself. And then we spoke for a minute, shook hands, and then off he went. He was quite a man of faith."
Bryant and his family regularly attended the Newport Beach church, sitting in the back to avoid being a distraction to others.
In a Facebook post, Bishop Timothy Freyer described Bryant as a "committed Catholic who loved his family and loved his faith."
"A longtime Orange County resident and parishioner in our Diocese, Kobe would frequently attend Mass and sit in the back of the church so that his presence would not distract people from focusing on Christ's Presence."
Bryant was one of the most talented basketball players in history, driven by hard work and staying true to his talent.
Known for his fiery competitiveness, Bryant went straight to the Lakers from high school at the age of 18. He helped his team win 5 NBA Championships, won two Olympic gold medals and was an 18-time All Star.
Bryant's career and personal life weren't without controversy though. That included prominent spats with fellow players and a sexual assault charge that was later dismissed, right before it would have gone to trial, in a settlement with the accuser. That sexual incident led his wife to file for divorce. After several years, Bryant and his wife reconciled.
During a 2015 interview with GQ, he said he was confronting the poor life choices he had made and returning to his faith for guidance.
Bishop TD Jakes spoke about Bryant's faults and how turning to God helped him to understand and overcome them.
"People like him have become the gladiators of our era - these players reach that height of celebrity status. I also think that his failures and flaws add to the affection of America. We like people who are human enough to have flaws and hero enough to overcome them...we watched him overcome them," Jakes said.
During a CBS This Morning interview, Bishop Jakes explained that having faith allows us to go through the process of coping with this kind of tragedy.
"If you are rooted and grounded in your faith, you use your faith to get through the darkness rather than using the darkness to challenge your faith."
"We can't change the situation, but we can hug a little closer to the people in our lives that we love and not take them for granted. Take time out of our busy schedule to really focus on what matters, the people that you care about because every moment is a precious moment," he concluded.
Bishop T.D. Jakes (@BishopJakes) reflects on why Kobe Bryant means so much to so many people:
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) January 28, 2020