June 29, 2009
In a special commemorative edition of TIME on Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant thinks back on his relationship with the "King of Pop":
"One of the things he always told me was, don't be afraid to be different. In other words, when you have that desire, that drive, people are going to try to pull you away from that, and pull you closer to the pack to be 'normal.' And he was saying, It's O.K. to be that driven; it's O.K. to be obsessed with what you want to do. That's perfectly fine. Don't be afraid to not deviate from that. One of the books that he gave me that helped him communicate with me was "Jonathan Livingston Seagull," which was about that.
Beyond the genius of what he was, he was just a genuinely, genuinely nice person. He got me hooked on movies that I would normally never watch. Fred Astaire movies. All the old classics. I would never, never watch those. I remember my fiancée and I telling him we were getting married, and him just being really excited and actually just offering up the ranch to have our wedding there, because privacy was going to be an issue. We wanted to get married in a church, so that's what we wound up doing. But he made the offer. He was just a genuinely nice person who was exceptionally bright, exceptionally bright, and driven and talented. You mix those things together, man, you have Michael Jackson."