News broke this afternoon that retired NBA player Kobe Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash.
Bryant was also a practicing Catholic, and explained in an interview how his faith helped him through some dark times.
Instagram user Cristina Ballestero revealed an amazing story about seeing Bryant at a weekday Mass at Holy Family Cathedral in Orange, Cali.
Here’s her story below:
Here’s the text of her story (edited for easier reading):
“I want to tell a story about the time I met Kobe Bryant.
“I was sitting in the very back of Holy Family Cathedral in Orange, CA, on a weekday Mass. At the time I was very into wearing veils, and on this particular day, I had a scarf I used as a veil.
“As Mass began, I saw a huge shadow in my right peripheral vision and heard a decently loud creak from probably a big man. I double took to see… it was KOBE BRYANT IN THE SAME PEW AS ME ON THE OTHER END!
“I just went about my normal praying and singing as usual, because he, like all of us, came to pray. Thank God I had the veil so I could stay focused on Jesus, not this insanely talented basketball player my whole family has looked up to and watched our whole lives.
“As we went up to communion, he waited for me to go. If you grew up in the Catholic Church, you understand this is a respectful thing men do in church as a sign of respect to women.
“He said I have a beautiful voice. I said thank you, and went up to communion.”
“…A couple other friends saw him standing behind me going to receive Jesus. And we talked about it after Mass and freaked out together.
“It was such a cool experience to receive Jesus right before him, and also, to walk up to receive Jesus together. It was also cool to see him come for a weekday mass.
“He said in his GQ interview how a Catholic Priest helped him through the tough time he went through in the media. He also talks about how his faith is important.
“His most inspiring trait was his decision to turn to his faith in God and receive God’s mercy and to be a better man after a regretful decision.
“He and his wife do so much great work with their foundation. I’m heartbroken at the news of his death. My prayers go out to his family, friends and loved ones. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he Rest In Peace, Amen.
“We love you Kobe.”