Before Kobe Bryant had kids, he told longtime friend Tracy McGrady he wanted to ‘die young’

Having his daughters changed Bryant's perspective on that.

LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 30: (L-R) Tracy McGrady #1 the Houston Rockets and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers look on during a freethrow in the second half of the game at Staples Center on March 30, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant would often tell his longtime friend, Tracy McGrady, that he wanted to “die young” and be “immortalized,” according to McGrady.

“This sounds crazy, but Kobe spoke this. He spoke this. He used to say all the time ‘I wanna die young,’ ‘I wanna be immortalized and I wanna have my career be better than Michael Jordan’s and I used to think he was so crazy for saying that,” McGrady, an NBA Hall of Famer, told ESPN.

However, McGrady said once Bryant had children, his attitude about dying young completely changed.

READ MORE: How LA basketball fans mourned the tragic loss of Kobe Bryant

“Once he had kids he did not have that mindset,” McGrady said.

Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others died on Sunday when their helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California.

Bryant, 41, and McGrady, 40, have been friends dating back to when they were youngsters. In the NBA, McGrady said it was Bryant who helped him survive his first few seasons in the league.

The former Houston Rockets star, who retired in 2013, broke down several times while talking to ESPN about Bryant. “I’m devastated, just like everybody else,” he said.

READ MORE: Kobe Bryant’s death isn’t just about basketball, it’s about the void left behind

McGrady said in recent years, he was around Bryant a lot, as both of them were coaching their children playing AAU basketball. He said he was particularly impressed with Bryant’s daughter, Gigi’s skills on the court.

“Before the game, I would give Gigi a hug and tell her to go out there and kill it and she’d say ‘don’t worry about that Uncle Mac, I got this,’” McGrady said.

“She was special, man. She was built like Kobe. Her mannerisms, everything. Just to watch her play was like watching a young Kobe,” McGrady told ESPN. “The moves, she had a fadeaway at 13 years old. I was watching this girl and it just looked like her dad out there and I was like damn she’s going to be special.”

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