Flea Shares Thoughtful Kobe Bryant Tribute After Memorial Service - Rolling Stone
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Flea Reflects on Kobe Bryant After Memorial Service: ‘He Was Fully in His Spirit’

Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist and Lakers fan said late NBA star embodied “what it is to be enlightened”

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 11: Flea attends the premiere of Disney and Pixar's "Toy Story 4" on June 11, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Flea shared his thoughts on what made Kobe Bryant such a special basketball player in a tribute penned following a public memorial service.

Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist and die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan Flea reflected on what made Kobe Bryant such a compelling figure and unique basketball player in a tribute posted one day after a public memorial service for the late NBA legend and his daughter, Gianna.

“The outpouring of love yesterday for Kobe, his beautiful little girl Gianna, and the other beautiful people lost was powerful,” Flea wrote on Instagram. “It’s tripped me out, how in the days after his death the quantity of people who texted me letting me know they were in tears, shocked and saddened. This includes many friends who expressed dislike for Kobe while he was alive, for a variety of reasons.”

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The outpouring of love yesterday for Kobe, his beautiful little girl Gianna and the other beautiful people lost, was powerful. It tripped me out, how, in the days after his death, the quantity of people texting me, letting me know they were in tears, shocked and saddened. This included many friends who expressed dislike for Kobe while he was alive. I’ve concluded that when Kobe played basketball, he was often in a place beyond thought, in the zone, lost in the moment, completely in the present, and fully in his spirit. In those moments, we saw what it is to be enlightened. Like what a monk who sits in a Himalayan cave all his life seeks. And he did it time and time again, in front of all of us, on television. Whether you liked him or not, we all yearn to be completely in the moment. It is a natural human thing, and our only possibility of true happiness, whether or not it is a conscious thought. We saw it, and we felt it. And it crossed through every human barrier. I loved him.

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Flea said that what made Bryant so fascinating was that, when he played basketball, “he was often in a place beyond thought, in the zone, lost in the moment, completely in the present, and fully in his spirit.” Those watching him in such moments, Flea said, “saw what it is to be enlightened. Like what a monk who sits in a Himalayan cave all his life seeks.” Of course, as Flea noted, Bryant did this not in isolation, but night after night, in packed arenas, on television, in front of everyone.

“Whether you liked him or not, we all yearn to be completely in the moment,” Flea wrote. “It is a natural human thing, and our only possibility of true happiness, whether or not it is a conscious thought. We saw it, and we felt it. And it crossed through every human barrier. I loved him.”

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Flea has spoken about his love and appreciation for Bryant several times since the NBA great and eight others died in a helicopter crash in January. Flea also notably performed the national anthem at Bryant’s final game in Los Angeles before he retired, and in a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, the bassist compared him to musicians like Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Jimmy Page, and Jimi Hendrix. “He’s been able to change and evolve and grow and be such a master of his craft,” Flea said at the time.

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