‘The message never delivered’: Ice Cube’s son recounts tragic story of trying to text Kobe Bryant after he died

Robert Marvi
4 Min Read

On Jan. 26, 2020, the entire world went into shock when Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant died along with eight others in a tragic helicopter crash.

O’Shea Jackson Jr., the son of legendary rapper Ice Cube, was rehearsing for an upcoming project that day when he was blindsided by the news.

“I was in Richmond, Virginia, rehearsing for my first day of work the next day,” said Jackson to Bill Oram and Jovan Buha of The Athletic. “Ironically, it was for a project by the name of ‘Swagger,’ which is executive-produced by Kevin Durant, and its main focus is basketball. Everyone who knows me knows I am one of the biggest Laker fans there ever was. And four days prior, I was reminding everyone on set that it was the day that Kobe scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. … I had literally, literally, just finished talking about Kobe to a young actress by the name of Christina Jackson, who plays my wife in the show, and was expressing to her how much Laker talk she was going to have to endure from me.”

Jackson then got the grim news from one of his colleagues. The performer was so shocked that he actually tried to text Bryant shortly after his death was confirmed.

“When rehearsal finished, I walked to my car the same way I always do,” said Jackson. “And just before I grabbed the (car door) handle, the entire set ran out to meet me at my car. And Austin, our first A.D. (assistant director), has this look on his face of fear and confusion. He screamed, ‘Shea, wait!’ He was on the phone and kept asking the person, ‘Are you positive? Are you positive?’ I swear on the Lord above, my first words were, ‘Is it about the Lakers?’ To which he replied, ‘No, it’s worse.’

“So my initial thought was that it was about my father. I pull out my phone and see that I have at least 30 to 40 messages. And at the bottom of the notifications was TMZ. Every single message told me that Kobe died. I looked in everyone’s face. They all waited for me to say something. Instead, I just got in my car in silence and drove to my hotel. As soon as I walked through the door, I fell to my knees and cried harder than I can ever remember. I took out my phone to text Kobe. I texted, ‘Please tell me it’s not true.’ And the message never delivered.”

Bryant was 41 when he died last year. A massive outpouring of love and sympathy soon followed, as well as many tributes to his life and accomplishments, which continue to this day.

After retiring from the NBA in 2016, he became something of an advocate and mentor for other athletes, particularly female athletes and children. He also launched multiple business ventures and won an Academy Award for a short film he helped create.

Current Lakers superstar Anthony Davis recently talked to the media about the impact Bryant left on people outside of the game of basketball.

On the one-year anniversary of Bryant’s passing, many have been quietly paying tribute to him. Former teammate Pau Gasol wrote a touching piece about how much the former superstar meant to him.

Bryant’s family has reportedly asked the NBA not to hold any tributes to him this year.

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Robert is a native of Santa Monica, Calif., and a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been an avid NBA fan since he was a little kid in the mid '90s and fell in love with the Nick Van Exel-led Lakers teams. He truly cherishes the Kobe Bryant-era of Lakers basketball and the five world championships that came with it, and is looking forward to the team's next NBA title.