COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The loss of Kobe Bryant is being felt in Columbus as well as around the world.
Columbus native Michael Redd is one of just a handful of NBA players to play both with and against Bryant.
After playing for Ohio State University, Redd went on to play against Bryant in the NBA, going head to head for years.
They also played together on the 2008 U.S. Olympic team.
It was those years playing together when Redd said they became close both on and off the court.
Bryant had been in the league a few years before Redd turned pro. Their first time meeting was on the court.
“When you’re looking across playing against him, working out with him, you knew that was the standard of greatness, that was the level you wanted to get to,” Redd said.
Redd said Bryant is the greatest competitor he ever played against.
“He was extraordinary,” he said. “He did things we never saw before.”
Eventually, the two got to play together on the Olympic team, training together, working out together, and in 2008, winning gold medals together.
“Me and him, at that point, that three-year span, developed a really close bond on the court and off the court,” Redd said. “We spent a lot of time together.”
He said he is heartbroken over what happened Sunday to Bryant, his daughter Gigi, and everyone else on the helicopter.
“Just devastating, shocking, heartbreaking news today that the world, not even the NBA, is feeling,” Redd said.
The heartbreak is hitting the hardwood in Columbus, too.
Andre Perry put his Bryant jersey on before playing Sunday to honor one of the greatest to play the game.
“He had so much impact on my favorite sport,” Perry said. “He was way too young, 41 years old. Just a shock to all of us. It hurts, even though we never got to meet him.”
As for Redd, he’s going to cherish all the time he got to spend with the Laker legend.
“I got a chance to see another side of him that probably most people didn’t get a chance to see,” he said. “I was privileged in that timeframe to connect with him and it was one of the great honors of my life, really was.”
Redd, like others, said Bryant will remain an icon and will be remembered as one of the greatest players to ever play the game.