Shaquille O’Neal says Kobe Bryant’s death will “always hurt”.
The retired basketball star was left devastated when his LA Lakers teammate Kobe lost his life in a helicopter crash last week, which also claimed the lives of Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.
And Shaquille has now said he’s learning to “cope” in a world without Kobe, but still finds it a struggle.
He said: “I’m coping, but it’s always going to hurt.”
The 47-year-old sports star hosted a pre-Super Bowl event over the weekend named ‘Shaq’s Fun House’, and proceeds of the bash – at which he DJed – were donated to the families of those who also died in the crash.
And Shaq says the fundraising element of the event is the only reason he didn’t cancel his appearance.
“I just wish I could be able to say one last thing to the people that we lost because once you’re gone, you’re gone forever.”
He told E! News: “The proceeds are going to the families. We need to start talking about them more. They’re very important. Anyone that loses a life is very important, so my condolences also goes out to the families.”
Meanwhile, the basketball player recently said he had wished Kobe’s death was a hoax because he couldn’t believe his friend and teammate was actually gone.
He said: “It hit all of us out of nowhere. I didn’t want to believe it.
“I said to my son, ‘I hope some buttface made this up and it’s not true’, I didn’t want to believe it. But then after getting all the calls… my spirit just left my body.
“I just wish I could be able to say one last thing to the people that we lost because once you’re gone, you’re gone forever. We should never take stuff like that for granted.
“The fact that we lost probably the world’s greatest Laker, the world’s greatest basketball player is just – listen, people are going to say take your time and get better, but this is going to be hard for me.
“I already don’t sleep anyway, but I’ll figure it out.“
Shaquille was also one of the first stars to pay tribute to Kobe and Gianna on social media.
He wrote: “There’s no words to express the pain Im going through with this tragedy of loosing my neice Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed. My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW (sic)”