Kobe Bryant spent the better part of his childhood in Italy, and was fluent in Italian.
“He spoke Italian very well. He even knew the local slang,” Petrucci added.
Bryant, the Philly-born, 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the most iconic basketball players of his generation over a 20-year career with the L.A. Lakers, died Sunday in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, Calif. He was 41.
His 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others also perished in the crash.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) January 27, 2020
Bryant, who retired in 2016, would make it a point to help Italian players acclimate to the NBA, as he always held a strong connection to the Old Country.
Other victims of the crash included John Altobelli, a longtime baseball coach at Orange Coast College, a junior college in Costa Mesa. Calif., as well as Altobelli’s wife, Keri, and daughter Alyssa, according to The New York Times.
Kobe is survived by his three children: Natalia Diamante, 17; Bianka Bella, 3; and Capri Kobe, less than 1; and his wife Vanessa Bryant, 37.