Aaron Rodgers Pays Tribute to Kobe Bryant With Heartfelt Post

Aaron Rodgers on Kobe Bryant

Getty OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 12: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers watches warm-ups before the Golden State Warriors take on the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the 2017 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 12, 2017 in Oakland, California.

One of the NFL’s most recognizable names took a moment to honor the “inspiration” Kobe Bryant brought to athletes everywhere — and fans in general — following the Los Angeles Lakers legend’s tragic death on Sunday.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers shared a heartfelt Instagram post on Sunday night with a picture of him and Bryant together at Staples Center, honoring his memory after the NBA star was killed along with eight others in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles earlier in the morning. His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, was also died in the crash.

“So many of us have our ‘Kobe’ story,” Rodgers wrote. “An inspirational moment, play, game, or tale of his work ethic, that inspired us to dig deeper, work harder, train longer, or trust ourselves at a new level in a clutch moment. That was that #mambamentality and we are all grateful for your inspiration.”

Rodgers grew up in the Northern California city of Chico and was making his name as a high school quarterback while Bryant was helping the Lakers win three straight NBA titles from 2000-02. He later made Southern California his offseason home after establishing himself as an NFL starter and made several appearances at Staples Center during Bryant’s illustrious career, including his second-to-last home game in 2016 — when their picture together was taken.

Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and his other three daughters: Natalia, Bianka and newborn Capri.

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Rodgers Cited Bryant During Collarbone Recovery

Rodgers’ admiration for Bryant dates back further than just their picture together. While Rodgers was recovering from a fractured collarbone late in the 2013 season, he talked about reading something Bryant had said about coming back from injuries that stuck with him.

“I read a great quote by Kobe, actually, recently,” Rodgers said during his weekly ESPN Milwaukee radio show in December 2013, per ESPN. “He was talking about his (Achilles tendon) injury and how when you’re injured it heightens kind of your awareness of that injury. But when you get back on the court or the field, it’s all about performing and trying to block that out. I think that’s the easy part when you’re out there. It’s easy to talk about it with you guys and understand the risks. But when you’re out on the field, it’s about performing and playing and not worrying about it.”

Rodgers returned from his collarbone injury and played one of his best seasons in 2014, helping the Packers go 12-4 and reach the NFC Championship game. He threw for 4,381 yards with 38 touchdowns and just five interceptions and was selected as a first-team All-Pro.

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