Kobe Bryant "was my mentor", loose Djokovic on the verge of tears

Novak Djokovic evokes with emotion the disappearance of Kobe Bryant, after his victory against Raonic in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. – Lee Jin-man / AP / SIPA

"He was my mentor": In tears, Novak Djokovic paid tribute to
Kobe Bryant, the legendary basketball player who died in a helicopter accident on Tuesday on the court of the Rod Laver Arena where he had just qualified for the semi-finals of
the Australian Open.

“He was one of the best athletes of all time. He inspired me and a lot of people around the world, "said Djokovic, who sported the initials K and B on his tracksuit jacket, as well as the numbers 8 and 24 that Bryant wore in the Lakers, and a little pink heart.

“I have been fortunate to have had a personal relationship with him for the past ten years. When I needed advice or support, he was there for me, ”said the Djoker. "He was my mentor, my friend and my heart broke when he learned what had happened to him and his daughter," concluded the Serbian before stopping, stifled by emotion.

Last Friday, two days before the helicopter accident that claimed the lives of nine people, Djoko had explained during a television interview that Bryant helped him a lot when he was in doubt following his elbow injury in 2017. “It was a difficult time, mentally and emotionally. We had to manage all that, the fall in the ranking, the work to go up. Kobe was one of the people who were really there for me, ”he said.