In a lengthy post on Instagram, James said he was "heartbroken and devastated" by the death of Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, in a helicopter crash Sunday in Calabasas, Calif. The current Lakers star said he has "much more I want to say but just can't right now because I can't get through it."
"I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to L.A.," James wrote. "Didn't think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we'd have. ... Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa [Bryant] and the kids. I promise you I'll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation."
Bryant, 41, and his daughter were among nine aboard the helicopter that went down about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The group was headed to Mamba Sports Academy, a facility that Bryant created and coached at, for a girls basketball game when their helicopter crashed under unknown circumstances. There were no survivors.
The crash came one day after James passed Bryant for third place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Bryant, who scored 33,643 points in his NBA career, was active on social media Saturday night, congratulating James on the feat.
James, his teammates and the Lakers coaching staff found out about Bryant's death while the team was flying back to Los Angeles from Philadelphia.
The NBA postponed Tuesday night's game between the L.A. Clippers and Lakers as the organizations attempt to cope with the tragedy.
Bryant, a two-time NBA Finals MVP, retired from the league in 2016 after winning five NBA championships and one Most Valuable Player Award (2008) with the Lakers.