Derek Jeter writes tribute to Kobe Bryant for The Players' Tribune

Jim Reineking
USA TODAY

Newly minted Baseball Hall of Famer Derek Jeter penned a tribute to the late Kobe Bryant in The Players' Tribune.

Jeter wrote in part: "When I think of Kobe, I really just end up thinking about those special few personal conversations that we were lucky enough to share together, each time one of us had a new baby daughter. I end up thinking about how, here was this guy who was beyond gifted as an athlete, who was obsessed with being a champion, who was known as an absolute assassin with a ball in his hands. 

"And in the moments I got to spend with him? He didn’t really talk about any of that. He cared much more about being a husband to Vanessa and a dad to his girls."

Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among nine people who were killed when a helicopter crashed in the hills near Calabasas, California. Kobe was 41, while Gianna was 13

"I’ve still never seen him look as happy, in those big moments on the court, as he looked the other day off of it: with an arm around Gigi, sitting courtside, and just….. talking," Jeter wrote.

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The storied athletic careers of Jeter and Bryant intersected in the first decade of the millennium. While Jeter was helping lead the New York Yankees to five World Series titles, Bryant was a vital part in the return of the Lakers as a dominant force in the NBA.

Bryant retired in 2016 as a five-time NBA champion, 11-time All-NBA first-team selection, 2008 MVP, two-time Finals MVP, 18-time All-Star and four-time All-Star MVP who spent his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant also was a member of two gold medal-winning Olympic basketball teams in 2008 and 2012.