The 38-year-old singer took to Instagram on Monday to pay tribute to the late Lakers legend.
According to the Grammy winner, the two met when they were teenagers and bonded over their “drive and process.”
“I was in awe of what you could do with a basketball and knew your talent went beyond your physical gifts and stretched to your mentality,” Timberlake wrote on the social network. “A mentality that I would take with me throughout my whole career and still use every day. As the years went by, I watched you do things that seemed humanly unimaginable. And, through ups and downs, championships and injuries, you still remained with an unwavering resolve about your mentality to remain fierce to competition.”
The artist then explained how “something started to change” every time they connected.
“Your patience and ease grew,” Timberlake continued. “And it inspired me to continue to grow for myself.”
He also recalled how they exchanged “https://www.eonline.com/”old man”https://www.eonline.com/” jokes throughout the years.
“We both appreciated a good ‘ribbing,’ Timberlake added. “We joked about ‘The Vino Club.’ You nicknamed yourself ‘Vino’ to represent how one could age gracefully as a fine wine does.”
Still, he said the NBA star “never stopped aiming to inspire me.”
“Your confidence in me was huge—it really affected me because I admired you so much,” Timberlake wrote. “I don’t mean as one of the greatest athletes ever. I mean as a person. People sometimes can confuse a will to win with a lack of compassion. That wasn’t you. You had both qualities. “
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Timberlake then looked back at the last conversation he had with Bryant.
“The last conversation that we shared was about being fathers and what that meant,” he wrote. “That was, beyond all the things that we could do in this world, our true legacy. Who our children are and what beautiful people they will become. And, I guess right now, without being able to find all the words, THAT father connection is what is most devastating for me.”
He also sent his love to Bryant’s wife Vanessa and to the rest of the family. In addition, he sent love to “the families of everyone connected in the mourning of this terrible tragedy.”
“My heart is broken and my family lifts you up in our thoughts and prayers,” he concluded.
“Kobe… You have connected so many of us. The Mamba Mentality will last for all of time. I know that will be a source for me every day as it has been for so many days before. Your legacy is with us. It’s our responsibility to pass it down now. I hope…I can continue to make you proud, Vino. Champ, MVP, Legend, Hero, Inspiration, Father, Friend. I’m gonna miss you, brother. Mamba forever.”
In addition, Timberlake shared a series of old photos of himself with Bryant. One showed the singer cheering Bryant on at a game. Another showed them at the ESPY Awards.
Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. on Sunday. He was 41 years old. His daughter, Gianna, was killed in the tragic accident, as well. She was 13 years old. Bryant and his daughter were among the nine people on the aircraft. There were no survivors.
Timberlake wasn’t the only celebrity to honor Bryant. Drake, Taylor Swift, Reese Witherspoon, John Legend and more stars also paid tribute. Several athletes—including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Shaquille O’Neal—did so, as well.