"That was the only person I just adored," Holmes said.
Bryant, who meant so much to the NBA community, also meant the world to Holmes. That's why the day Jan. 26 – the day Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash – left the entire world, including Holmes, mourning.
"I cried my whole way home, I cried at home, I cried myself to sleep. It was just terrible,” Holmes said. “The whole day was just terrible, the day after that. Still, to this day, it's really hard for me to talk about it."
Bryant may be an NBA legend, but he didn't only inspire young men. He also advocated for women.
The Lakers legend told Jimmy Kimmel that people would say to him, "'You got to have a boy, man, you and V got to have a boy, somebody to carry on your tradition, the legacy.'"
The Black Mamba responded, "[Gianna’s] like 'Oy, I got this. You don't need a boy for that, I got this.' And I was like, 'That's right, yes, you do. You got this.'"
Bryant supported female athletes – especially his daughter, Gigi.
Bryant fought for equality for women's athletics, something Holmes always took to heart.
"[Kobe] was just an amazing advocate for girls in sports," Holmes said. "My life-long dream was to try to meet him but that's kind of failed. But I just feel like, in general, I do feel like I know him. Even though I don't really know him, I do feel like we have a connection."
"I wrote his number – both his numbers, so 24 and 8 – and then I wrote his daughter's name and her number and then I wrote 'legends live forever,'" she said.
Holmes was honoring the player she adored the best way she knew how: by playing the game both she and Kobe Bryant loved.
"Just trying to put everything in the number itself and just trying to do the best that I can to emulate his name and what he stood for," Holmes said.
Holmes scored 14 points that night and had 10 rebounds, adding up the number 24. The outing was also her 24th career double-double.
"Maybe it's just God telling me like, 'He's still here, he's still with all of us,'" Holmes said. "[No.] 24 forever, we'll love him forever."
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