x

Denver's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Denver, Colorado | 9NEWS.com

Peyton Manning reacts to Kobe Bryant's death: 'I appreciated his friendship'

Manning retired as a quarterback after the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl victory in February 2016. Bryant played his last basketball game two months later.
Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Former NFL football player Peyton Manning, from left, former soccer player Abby Wambach, and former NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant, accept icon awards at the ESPY Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Wednesday, July 13, 2016, in Los Angeles.

COLORADO, USA — Famous star athletes tend to hang out in the same stratosphere as other star athletes.

They understand the pressures of fame, share many of the same privileges and frustrations. It’s not surprising then that Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant got to know each other in recent years.

Manning is arguably the No. 1 football star of the past two decades, one whose humorous, folksy personality has transcendent his sport into nationwide popularity through endorsements.

Outside the United States, basketball is bigger than football. Bryant was the No. 1 basketball player to the generation between Michael Jordan and LeBron James, a star who soared to global proportions.

When Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash Sunday morning, Manning paid tribute to his friend later that day.

“I am incredibly saddened by the tragic news of Kobe Bryant’s passing,’’ Manning said in a statement. “I always appreciated Kobe’s talent, work-ethic and competitiveness. Most of all, I appreciated his friendship. He was a friend and we worked together recently on several projects. I was honored to be asked by Kobe to be part of his Detail show and really enjoyed our interactions over the years."

Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Former NFL football player Peyton Manning, from left, former soccer player Abby Wambach, and former NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant, accept icon awards at the ESPY Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Wednesday, July 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

"We retired at the same time and had to make that transition together," said Manning. "I am so shocked and saddened. My prayers are with the Bryant family and the families of everyone involved. I will miss Kobe very much just like so many will. It’s just an incredibly sad day."

Manning retired as a quarterback after the Broncos’ Super Bowl triumphant in February 2016. Bryant played his last basketball game two months later.

RELATED: Watch Kobe Bryant's Oscar-winning film 'Dear Basketball'

SUGGESTED VIDEOSSports

RELATED: Watch: Jimmy Fallon pays tearful tribute to Kobe Bryant on ‘Tonight Show’

RELATED: Petition calling for NBA to change logo to Kobe Bryant has more than 1.5 million signers

RELATED: All 9 victims in the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash have been identified

RELATED: Kobe Bryant takes a bow on commemorative TIME magazine cover

RELATED: Kobe Bryant helicopter crash: What we know now

RELATED: Lakers vs. Clippers game postponed after Kobe Bryant's tragic death

RELATED: Husband of woman killed in Kobe Bryant helicopter crash grapples with loss

RELATED: 'Tonight is for Kobe': Grammy Awards begin with emotional tribute to Kobe Bryant

RELATED: Basketball Hall of Fame honors Kobe Bryant, nominee for ‘Hoop Class of 2020’

RELATED: 'Dear Basketball' | Watch Kobe Bryant's Oscar-winning film

RELATED: Fact-checking rumors that spread after Kobe Bryant’s death in helicopter crash

RELATED: Celebrities, athletes and politicians react to the death of Kobe Bryant

RELATED: Pepsi Center lit up for Kobe Bryant, Denver Nuggets hold moment of silence

RELATED: President Trump on Kobe Bryant: 'He was just getting started in life'

RELATED: Michael Jordan reacts to Kobe Bryant's death: 'He was like a little brother to me'

RELATED: Grammys pre-show opens with moment of silence for Kobe Bryant

Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
Justin Timberlake bows, as Icon award winners walk on stage to accept their awards at the ESPY Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Wednesday, July 13, 2016, in Los Angeles. From left, are Peyton Manning, Abby Wambach and Kobe Bryant.