Tom Brady shares emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant: ‘He was the real life superhero’

A day after thousands mourned Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna at Staples Center, future Hall of-Fame quarterback Tom Brady shared an emotional tribute reflecting on the NBA star's legacy. 

Brady, an NFL free agent for the first time in his storied career with the New England Patriots, called Bryant a "real life superhero" and said he's been "deeply affected" by the loss. In his tribute, he tried to put into words exactly why. 

“In this tragedy, I have learned so much," Brady wrote of his grief. "Why has this touched me in the way that it did? Why has it kept me up at night, and brought me so many tears? In Kobe, we were able to witness the man in the arena. For many of us, sports show what we are made of, they define our personalities and emotions. We cannot hide from the good or the bad, from the wins or the losses… the joy and despair, the happiness and pain. What you see is what it is, we aren’t actors. We have found a real life stage where we become vulnerable to the world and are judged based on the outcome of each performance. And we care deeply about what we do."

Bryant, Gigi and seven others were killed in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash. On Monday Bryant's wife, Vanessa, honored her late daughter and husband to a standing ovation at Staples Center. In the commemorative tribute, mentor Michael Jordan emotionally delivered a speech honoring his "little brother." 

Brady, a five-time Super Bowl champion, said it was who Bryant was as a man off the court that meant so much more than his legacy as a five-time NBA champion. 

"He didn't stop with himself," Brady wrote. "Kobe didn’t care whether you were a man or woman, boy or girl, black or white, rich or poor, ordinary or extraordinary, he wanted to help you become the best you could be. His mere presence had an effect on everybody he was around. He had the energy to recognize in others what they could not recognize in themselves.

"I think that’s why I miss him most. Because we all know the world needs more of that leadership and positivity. We recognize that he was doing the work that others don’t want to or simply can’t do. The world we live in is full of people telling kids and adults ‘you can’t,’ ‘you shouldn’t,’ ‘you won’t,’ or ‘you never will.’ The world we live in is teaching EVERYBODY to fear, to worry, to shame or to give up. And that’s the opposite of what Kobe stood for. That’s what made Kobe a real superhero."

Brady closed the Twitter note by encouraging others to “seize the day” and embody what Kobe represented in living life to the fullest.

"He was the real life superhero our world needs," Brady wrote. 

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