Shaquille O'Neal pays tribute to 'little brother' Kobe Bryant

Shaquille O'Neal

Shaquille O'Neal has paid an emotional tribute to his late friend and former teammate, Kobe Bryant.

The Los Angeles Lakers player died alongside his teenage daughter Gianna in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday, and opening up on the sad loss on sports show NBA on TNT, the basketball star confessed he feels "changed".

"I haven't felt a pain that sharp in a while," Shaquille said, before explaining how he found out his pal had died. "I didn't want to believe it... I said to myself, 'I hope somebody, made this up and it's not true. I didn't want to believe it...' And then I get all these calls and you finally feel the concern and just, my spirit just left my body."

He added: "I just wish I could be able to say one thing to say to the people that we lost because once you're gone, you're gone forever and, you know, we should never take stuff like that for granted."

During an hour-long National Basketball Association (NBA) pre-game special tribute at the Staples Center on Tuesday, Shaquille also spoke about the incident, reflecting: "I'm 47 years old. Lost two grandmothers, a (father), I lost a sister, and now I lost a little brother.

"We're not gonna be able to joke at his Hall of Fame ceremony. I wish I could just say something to him again," the sportsman added. "I work more than the average guy, but I just have to take time... and do a better job of reaching out and calling people. Because you never know."

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