Tracy McGrady says young Kobe Bryant told him 'I want to die young, I want to be immortalized'

As the NBA, its fans and the broader world impacted by Kobe Bryant processes his sudden death on Sunday, players and people who knew him are sharing stories of their relationship with the fallen Los Angeles Lakers icon.

Tracy McGrady, who joined the league a year after Bryant in 1997 and did so straight out of high school like Kobe did, shared an eerie story with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols on “The Jump” on Monday.

McGrady: ‘Kobe spoke this’

McGrady, in tears, told Nichols that “Kobe spoke this.”

“He used to say all the time, ‘I want to die young,’” McGrady told Nicholes of Bryant. “I thought he was cra- ... he used to say ‘I want to die young. I want to be immortalized. I want to have my career be better than Michael Jordan’s, and I want to die young.’

“I just thought he was so crazy for saying that.”

McGrady, who said he was devastated, noted that Bryant said those things in his younger days when pressed by Nichols.

“Clearly that statement was way before kids,” McGrady said. “I’m sure that when he had kids, he didn’t have the mindset.”

Tracy McGrady said that a young Kobe Bryant told him he wanted to be immortalized during their early days in the NBA. (Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Bryant had four daughters with his wife Vanessa, including 13-year-old Gianna, who died alongside him with seven others in Sunday’s helicopter crash outside of Los Angeles.

Bryant was active in his children’s lives and seen repeatedly with Gianna attending basketball games and working with her as she developed her own game.

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