PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Just a few days ago, journalist Christine McMahon made plans to meet with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles to discuss new business ventures.
Sunday, she was coming to terms with the NBA star’s death in a helicopter crash.
Sources say the crash in California also killed Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter and seven others.
“I think something like this is going to be a national, if not international, grief,” McMahon told KDKA Sunday.
McMahon and Bryant initially became friends when Bryant asked to be featured on the cover of Pittsburgh-based Whirl Magazine in December 2018.
The cover story was initially going to be about Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster until McMahon got a call from Bryant’s publicist asking to put him on the cover instead.
“How? This is a Pittsburgh magazine,” McMahon said. “She said he had really done his research and he loved what I was doing. He really wanted to be profiled there and he wanted the cover.”
The cover story was on Art of Sport, a skincare line for athletes that includes deodorant and sunscreen.
Bryant was one of the founding athletes for the brand, along with Smith-Schuster.
“He was a man who was very intrigued with life and business and people and interested in helping people,” McMahon said of Bryant. “I really believe that the lessons he learned on the court, he carried through his life.”
After Bryant’s cover came out, he asked for a blown-up copy.
He and McMahon remained friends and spoke about his interests in starting a sports magazine.
She said Bryant’s love of business and his family was obvious in their conversations.
“His motivating thing was that he wanted his girls to be strong girls,” she said through tears. “We will be grieving for so long because his impact on so many people was really profound.”