COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The death of Kobe Bryant is being felt around the world, including on the campus of The Ohio State University.
Duane Washington, Jr., a guard on the OSU men’s basketball team, is Derek Fisher’s nephew. Fisher was one of Bryant’s longtime teammates and while the two had success on the court, their families often bonded off of it.
“I remember having game night’s at my uncle’s crib, and he [Bryant] would come over with Vanessa and stuff like that,” recalled Washington. “We had game nights all the time. We played Sorry all the time.”
Washington, a Grand Rapids native, said he would travel to watch Fisher and Bryant play as often as possible.
Over time, Washington said his bond grew with Bryant, who he would eventually start calling “Uncle Kobe.”
“He’d just see how much taller I was getting and he just came up to me and was like, ‘What’s up nef?'” said Washington. “Then after that, I just called him ‘Uncle Kobe.'”
Washington said he first learned of Bryant’s death Sunday shortly before the Buckeyes were scheduled to play at Northwestern.
He said he never questioned whether to play in the game.
“If I had the chance to talk to him, he’d be like, ‘Alright, we got to lock in,'” explained Washington. “This is for your team. They need you out there. I need them out there. I can’t let them down, so he wouldn’t have wanted to let them down at all.”
Washington said he will never forget Bryant, both for what he meant to the game of basketball and beyond.
“Obviously, he was a great basketball player, but there was more to him than just that,” he said. “He was a great friend, a great father, a great husband, a great teammate and a great uncle. Just spending the time with him that I did, I cherished it. Unfortunately, he’s gone now, but he’s in a better place.”