Kobe Bryant: Naomi Osaka reveals late basketball legend is her phone lockscreen

Tennis star Naomi Osaka has revealed basketball legend Kobe Bryant is the lockscreen on her phone

Tennis star Naomi Osaka has revealed basketball legend Kobe Bryant is the lockscreen on her phone.

Osaka showed fans her lockscreen during a Q&A session on her Instagram story. Her favoured photo is an image of Bryant walking down a hallway, with his back to the camera.

The 24-year-old viewed Byrant as her mentor, but the basketball star sadly died in a helicopter crash in January 2020.

Osaka has often paid tribute to him since. She wore a Los Angeles Lakers jersey after her US Open victory last year, for example.

The pair first met in June 2019 through Osaka’s agent, and they quickly developed a close bond.

“I just learned a lot of calming things,” Osaka said on Spotify’s VS Voices podcast earlier this month.

“And I also learned how hard he practices and how hard he works at everything he does, which I found extremely motivating. I felt pushed to do better.

“It was definitely helpful, just to like, reach out and talk to him whenever there was a situation that I couldn’t figure out the answer to, and just to have that mentor role be filled by him was definitely a big honour for me.”

Naomi Osaka thought of Kobe Bryant as a mentor

Osaka added: “Sometimes I would think about the things that he said, and it would calm me down. I would talk to him about something that stresses me out or something like that, and he would tell me that stress is a part of human nature.

“It’s not necessarily that you’re not going to be stressed, it’s a way of working through it.”

Osaka previously spoke about her friendship with Bryant in her self-titled Netflix documentary series.

The four-time Grand Slam winner has endured a tumultuous 2021, despite winning the Australian Open in January.

Things began to go downhill at the French Open in May. Osaka withdrew from the tournament after she caused a storm by refusing to carry out her media obligations.

She returned for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and US Open, but stepped away from the court again after a number of disappointing performances.

Osaka revealed she did not feel “happy” while playing tennis, and decided to take time out to regain her love for the sport. She is set to return at the Australian Open in January.

Bryant, who won five NBA Championships with the LA Lakers during his 20-year career, was often a vocal supporter of women’s sport. He also acted as a mentor to blossoming basketball talent Sabrina Ionescu.

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