Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka says she misses Kobe Bryant, the basketball great who used to encourage her to keep going after tough losses. In January 2020, former five-time NBA champion Bryant tragically lost his life in a plane crash.
“I miss Kobe,” Osaka tweeted.
In an interview with WSJ, Osaka revealed that Bryant used to text her after tough losses and encourage her to keep working hard.
“There would be some really tough losses,” Osaka told WSJ. “I didn’t even know he was paying attention, but he would text me positive things and tell me to learn from it. For me, it was definitely helpful.”
Bryant ‘touched’ the heart of Osaka
Osaka was very emotional following Bryant’s tragic death . “It’s so amazing how one person can touch the hearts of so many people,” Osaka said following his death.
“When I talked to him, I felt so similar to him. The way he was talking and the way he would describe how he would do things to get under his opponent’s skin, and I was like, ‘That’s literally what I do.’
” After losing to Cori Gauff at the 2020 Australian Open, Osaka felt like she “let Bryant down.” “I’m supposed to carry on his mentality in tennis, and here I am, I haven’t won a Grand Slam, I’m losing matches because I’m mentally weak, and that’s so uncharacteristic of him,” Osaka said.
“It’s like we’re having all these talks and I’m not even doing what we’re talking about.” Meanwhile, Osaka is preparing for the US Open. Osaka hasn’t had a great summer so far but the US Open is there place where she has had lots of success.
Osaka, 24, captured her first Grand Slam title at the 2018 US Open. Two years ago, Osaka lifted her second US Open title. It remains to be seen how far can Osaka go at the US Open this year.