Kobe Bryant a Christian? Kobe talked about Catholic faith, said talking to priest changed his life

Reuters/ Danny Moloshok

NBA Legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna tragically passed away in a helicopter crash on Sunday morning. 

Kobe Bryant is being remembered as "one of the most extraordinary players" in the history of basketball who "inspired people around the world" to play the game.

The 41-year-old, who retired in 2016 after a successful 20-year career with the LA Lakers, was a five-time NBA champion and was named an NBA All-Star 18 times.

"The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna," said NBA commissioner Adam Silver. "For 20 seasons, Kobe showed us what is possible when remarkable talent blends with an absolute devotion to winning. He was one of the most extraordinary players in the history of our game with accomplishments that are legendary.

"But he will be remembered most for inspiring people around the world to pick up a basketball and compete to the very best of their ability.

"He was generous with the wisdom he acquired and saw it as his mission to share it with future generations of players, taking special delight in passing down his love of the game to Gianna.

Upon the tragic news, fans wondered about the faith of the NBA legend. He was a Catholic who had once said talking to a priest changed his life.

Back in 2003, Bryant's career and personal life hit an all-time low after he was accused by a woman of rape. Bryant admitted that he had sex with the woman, but denied rape. The court judge dropped the charges against him, but the woman still filed a civil lawsuit against him and they settled out of court.

Because of the scandal, advertisers wanted nothing to do with Bryant, and his wife Vanessa filed for divorce. But during that bleak moment in his life, Bryant knew who to turn to - God. He went to church and talked to his priest, and the conversation was really enlightening for the sports star.

READ MORE: Kobe Bryant & daughter Gianna attended Sunday church service just hours before tragic death

"The one thing that really helped me during that process — I'm Catholic, I grew up Catholic, my kids are Catholic — was talking to a priest. It was actually kind of funny: He looks at me and says, 'Did you do it?' And I say, 'Of course not.' Then he asks, 'Do you have a good lawyer?' And I'm like, 'Uh, yeah, he's phenomenal.' So then he just said, 'Let it go. Move on. God's not going to give you anything you can't handle, and it's in his hands now. This is something you can't control. So let it go.' And that was the turning point," Bryant told GQ Magazine.

Bryant took the priest's advice to heart and sought to live his life better. Eventually, he and his wife got back together and have even started their own cause called the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation (KVBFF), which encourages young kids to develop their physical and social skills through sports and charity work.

When asked why they started the foundation, Bryant had answered, "My career is winding down. At the end of my career, I don't want to look back and just say, 'Well, I had a successful career because I won so many championships and scored so many points.' There's something else that you have to do with that."

Bryant said that everybody deserves a second chance and a little lift every now and then. "[The homelessness] issue is one that kind of gets pushed on the back burner because it's easy to point the blame at those who are homeless and say, 'Well, you made that bad decision. This is where you are. It's your fault.' In life, we all make mistakes and to stand back and allow someone to live that way and kind of wash your hands of it... that's not right," he said.