Green Bay Packer Za'Darius Smith, Detroit Lion Darius Slay pay homage to the late Kobe Bryant
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Green Bay linebacker Za’Darius Smith hastily organized an homage to Kobe Bryant minutes before the Pro Bowl.
Smith and his NFC teammates learned about Bryant’s death while they were in the locker room getting ready for the NFL’s all-star game Sunday. Smith suggested the best way to pay tribute the late NBA great was to mimic his fadeaway jumper after big plays.
So they did — repeatedly.
It was one of several ways NFL players remembered Bryant during the celebratory event, which the AFC won 38-33 for its fourth consecutive victory in Orlando.
“I don’t even want to talk about it anymore,” Smith said in the locker room hours later. “I don’t want to get emotional.”
Detroit cornerback Darius Slay didn’t duck his feelings. Slay grew up idolizing Bryant so much that he had a custom Lakers hoodie made to warm up in before NFL games. Slay also got to meet Bryant a few years back.
“It’s heart-wrecking,” Slay said with tears in his eyes. “There’s not any words you can say. I’m in shock. I just imagine him growing old, being part-owner of the Lakers and having a future son I could cheer for next. It’s just shocking. Me saying the words ‘Kobe’s gone,’ that’s just crazy.”