Recently on The Steve Austin Show, WWE Hall Of Famer Steve Austin weighed in on the tragic death of Kobe Bryant on January 26, 2020. Bryant, along with eight others, was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Austin paid tribute to the professional basketball great and talked about Bryant's promising post-NBA life.

On the subject of Bryant's untimely passing, Austin, whose Straight Up Steve Austin show will return to USA Network for a second season, shared that he is still having trouble processing the horrible news of Bryant's demise.

"This is a tragic event, which I'm still having a hard time processing, and I'm still thinking about it, and it definitely completely rocked my world along with my wife and everybody worldwide because of the amount of respect, love, and everybody revered Kobe Bryant. And, man, he transcended the sport of basketball, he transcended sports, and he was larger than life." Austin added, "and he truly was a global icon that was loved all over the world."  
Apparently, Austin found out about Bryant's passing when he was out shopping at a sporting goods store.

"Sunday was just an absolutely - man, I don't know - confounding, crazy, weird day," Austin professed. "The announcement of the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna. And my wife and I, Kristen and I, were at the sporting good store and we were going to get some weights for her. And, all-of-a-sudden, I got two text messages: one from my brother and one from a friend of mine here in [Los Angeles, California]. And they said, both of them at the same time, 'hey man, Kobe died?' And I looked at the other, 'Kobe died? Is Kobe dead?' like they're asking me. And my wife is about 10 feet in front of me and I held up my phone just to show her the texts because I couldn't believe it. It's like I got hit in the chest with a sledgehammer. It just took all the wind out of me and I was confused. And I showed her the phone. I said, 'Kobe? Is Kobe dead?'

"All-of-a-sudden, we started googling to see what the hell happened. This was around 11:30. We were just shopping and running errands. I guess it happened at 9:47 am California time. And goddang, dude, just all [Sunday] was grey. We were watching all the highlights and stuff like that. And even [Monday], especially being here in Los Angeles, where he was truly a global icon. He transcended basketball. He transcended sports. He was bigger than life and at 41 years of age, after an 18-time NBA All Star career that lasted 20 years and he was recruited as a 17 year old out of high school when he decide to go pro, just unbelievable."

Austin put over Bryant as a generational basketball talent that touched the lives of so many people. 'Stone Cold' divulged that he still gets teary when he watches Bryant's clips on TV.

"In my opinion, Kobe Bryant was one of those once in a lifetime players. I noticed or knew of him for half of my life and he was all of many people younger than me's life. Even if you're 75 [years old], he was a part of your life. He effected so many generations of people. And the think that I respected about Kobe the most was just the way her carried himself with class and grace. And him doing speeches, the way he articulated the game, his thought process, the way he played basketball, his basketball IQ, it was just off the charts. His talent was through the roof. And probably the defining thing that a lot of people are talking about is just his competitive nature and his willingness to put in the work. It's just this endless drive for perfection, and winning the game, and just playing so intelligent to avoid penalties, and locked down people on defense. He wasn't just an offensive whiz. I'll stop rambling, but the totality is still, we still get misty-eyed watching Kobe stuff on the television this morning in LA. There has literally been no talk about anything else going on in the world right now. That's how much he meant to everybody worldwide and really specifically Los Angeles."

Austin added, "again, he transcended the sport and was a true global icon and our thoughts are with everybody who lost their lives on that helicopter and all of the lives affected. And Kobe, he was a big part of my life. He was half of my life and he transcended sports. Hell, now I'm getting misty-eyed. Let's move on."

According to Austin, Bryant, who wrote a book in 2018 and won an Academy Award for his film Dear Basketball, was just getting started in life at the time of his passing.  

"To have such a successful basketball career for over 20 years," Austin reflected, "then segue into all the media stuff, winning an Oscar… yes! His life was basically… although he lived 41 years, his life was just getting started! To go at 41 years of age, everything that he accomplished and what he would have accomplished, it's really hard to comprehend."

Listen to the podcast here. If you use any of the quotes from this article, please credit The Steve Austin Show with an H/T to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.