In a resurfaced video interview with The Ringer from November 2016, Bryant, then 38, shared his views on death and what happens afterward. At the time, the former NBA star said he had reached a calm way of viewing death.
“It’s a comfortable one,” he said. “It’s an understanding that you can’t have life without death, can’t have light without the dark, right? So it’s an acceptance of that.”
“When it came time to decide whether or not to retire, that’s really an acceptance of that mortality that all athletes face,” Bryant continued. “And if you combat it, you’ll always have that inner struggle within yourself, you know what I mean.”
“I’m comfortable with it,” he reiterated.
On Sunday morning, Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas that also killed seven other people who were on board. He is survived by his wife Vanessa, 37, and their other daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
At the end of the three-year-old interview, Bryant is asked what he thinks happens in the afterlife.
“I don’t know — but I’ll know when I die,” he said, adding, “To me, it’s that simple: ‘I don’t know, we’ll see.'”
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“Traffic started getting really, really bad,” Bryant said at the time. “And I was sitting in traffic and I wound up missing like a school play because I was sitting in traffic. … I had to figure out a way where I could still train and focus on the craft but still not compromise family time.”
He continued, “So that’s when I looked into helicopters, to be able to get down and back in 15 minutes, and that’s when it started.”
Bryant also said his wife, Vanessa, told him she would pick up their children from school, but he was adamant about doing it himself.
“You have like road trips and times where you don’t see your kids,” he told Rodriguez. “So every chance I get to see them, to spend time with them, even if it’s 20 minutes in the car.”