This January, in the midst of creating Yeezy couture; a compound in Cody, Wyoming; and putting on weekly Sunday Services, Kanye West lost close friend Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter accident along with eight other people in Calabasas, California. West threw an emergency midnight Sunday Service that night, and just three days later, on January 29, he was back in Wyoming, talking to GQ about a million different things, including the loss of one of his “best friends.” “One thing I thought was really amazing is that we were able to find a groove with the photographs today even as out of it as I was with the loss of Kobe,” he said to GQ’s editor-in-chief, Will Welch. “We were able to just go to the court and play ball. There’s one street [Las Virgenes Road, the site of the helicopter crash] that I drive to go from either my office or my home to the property where the domes were built. So now there’s no way for me not to be as determined as Kobe every time I drive down that street. It’s game time.” “The way that Kobe would say that we all have to come together and win this championship is the way I look at life now,” he added.
Bryant’s celebrity friends have found a myriad of ways to honor him and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who also died in the crash, whether by donating to their Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation or participating in his farewell. Beyoncé, another good friend of the Bryants, sang at his memorial and Jay-Z wrote a song about grief with Jay Electronica the night the legend died. As for many, the tragedy fueled West’s fire. “This is a game changer for me,” West said at the time. “He was the basketball version of me, and I was the rap version of him, and that’s facts! We got the commercials that prove it. No one else can say this. We came up at the same time, together. And now it’s like, yeah, I might have had a reputation for screaming about things — but I’m not taking any mess for an answer now.”