Kobe Bryant’s cousin, who once played alongside him and is now a television announcer, says his family is devastated by the sudden death of the star, but takes solace in knowing that they are not alone in their grief.
“I’m devastated, haven’t been able to sleep,” Cedric Ceballos said. “This is tough.”
Ceballos’ grandfather and Bryant’s grandfather are brothers, he said.
Ceballos, now an analyst for Fox Sports Southwest, played for the Lakers when Bryant joined the team in 1996. Ceballos later played for the Dallas Mavericks from 1997-98 to 1999-00.
“It's a tough situation for our whole family," Ceballos said.
But they now know they are hardly alone in their grief, he said.
Ceballos worked Tuesday night for the TV network at the Mavericks' game against the Suns, as the teams and fans paid tribute to Bryant.
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After a moment of silence, the crowd chanted, “Kobe, Kobe, Kobe.”
"The world is embracing it with us,” Ceballos, who also serves as the Mavericks' vice president of community and corporate relations, said. “It's very difficult. Shocking."
He said he took comfort by the outpouring of support nationwide.
"Now it really shows how much respect and love he really had,” Ceballos said. “It's unfortunate he had to leave us for that affection to show."
Ceballos remembered the good times, like the memories on the team plane he'll never forget.
"Just the times on the plane, having rap battles,” he said. “Kobe was, lyrically -- I mean he didn't finish his albums -- but lyrically he had some skills. Goofing around… That's what we hold dearly. Those little moments when the cameras are not around."