The moment that a stunned Tiger Woods is told by his caddie straight after his round that close friend Kobe Bryant has died in a helicopter crash – and he finally understands why fans told him ‘do it for Mamba’ while playing
- Tiger Woods was close friends with Kobe Bryant, who tragically died on Sunday
- Bryant and eight more were killed in a helicopter crash on a hillside in Calabasas
- Woods had just finished playing a round when he was told of the horrible news
- He reflected on Bryant’s career and life in an emotional interview afterwards
Tiger Woods was stunned by the tragic news of close friend Kobe Bryant’s death when he was told by his caddie straight after finishing a round at a PGA Tour event.
The legendary golfer and late basketball icon were close friends and Woods just about managed to keep a lid on his emotions as the information sunk in.
As he strolled from the 18th green at Torrey Pines, his caddie Joe LaCava told him of Bryant’s death along with eight others in a helicopter crash on Sunday.
Tiger Woods could be heard saying ‘excuse me’ when his caddie told him the tragic news
Tiger Woods (left) and Bryant (centre) were close friends and the golfer is an LA Lakers fan
The pair were tracked by cameras and Woods could be heard saying: ‘Excuse me?’
He had earlier been confused when fans were shouting ‘do it for mamba’ (Bryant’s nickname), as he prepared to take a shot.
Shortly after being told, the 15-time Major champion explained: ‘I didn’t know until Joey just told me coming off the 18th green.
‘I didn’t really understand why people in the gallery were saying “do it for mamba”, but now I understand.
Woods was stunned by Kobe Bryant’s passing and was told straight after his round
‘It’s a shock to everyone, unbelievably sad, one of the more tragic days, for me the reality is just kind of setting in because I was just told probably about five minutes ago.’
Woods, a long-time Los Angeles Lakers fan, was then asked how he would remember Bryant.
‘I’ll remember the fire, he burned so competitively hot and the desire to win,’ he reflected.
‘He brought it each and every night on both ends of the floor. Not too many guys can say that throughout NBA history.
‘He’d lock up on D and obviously he was dominant on offence and any time he was in the game he’d go onto their best player and shut him down for all 48 minutes and that was one of the more impressive things I think in his entire career.
Woods gave an interview five minutes after his round and reflected on Bryant’s life
‘And then you know, when he ruptured his Achilles and still went to the foul line and made his shots, I mean that’s, that’s tough.’
Woods and Bryant shared a bond both as friends and also as two of the most iconic figures in their respective sports.
News of Bryant’s passing on Sunday was met at first by disbelief and then an outpouring of tributes on social media and from the sporting world.
The helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas with thick fog obscuring the pilot’s view.
Bryant’s daughter Gianna, 13, was also killed when the private Sikorsky S-76 came down.
Baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri, daughter Alyssa and basketball coach Christina Mauser also died along with the pilot Ara Zobayan were the other victims of the accident.
Bryant, 41, will be mourned most keenly in Los Angeles where he spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers.
He retired in 2016 having racked up a number of incredible achievements. Among those were the 2008 MVP award, twice NBA scoring champion and two time Olympic gold medal winner.
He leaves behind his wife, Vanessa and three other daughters Natalia, Bianca and Capri.