Phil Jackson, a former Lakers coach, says his relationship with Kobe & # 39; has transcended the norm & # 39;

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The youth team & # 39; Bryant Cantine Riunite & # 39; Bryant, in the early 1990s, in Reggio Emilia, Italy. Bryant is in the front row, third from the left.

Davide Giudici, a friend and former childhood friend of Kobe Bryant, spoke today to CNN about the passing of the NBA legend.

Giudici played with Bryant in the 1990s in the small Italian town of Reggio Emilia. Aged 11 and 12, they practiced several days a week together at Cantine Riunite, a junior basketball team named for a local winemaker with the region's sparkling red.

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"We had a strong team, but he was better than all of us. At 11, he was already very confident in his power and what he would become," said 41-year-old Giudici to CNN. we knew that he would become a professional basketball player. At that time, we didn't know that he would be one of the biggest stars in the world. "

Kobe's father, Joe Bryant, played in Italy for several years and was already famous locally when they moved to Reggio Emilia, Giudici said.

"We spent two years with Kobe and he spoke very fluent and perfect Italian, so he was like a friend of ours," said Giudici.

Kobe Bryant's time in Reggio remains a source of pride for many, the kind of thing that comes up in conversation when people explain where their hometown is. Giudici says that even locals who have no interest in basketball claim Kobe Bryant as their own.

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Giudici, who is now a graphic designer but acts locally, said he discovered Bryant's death through a flurry of messages from friends.

“I saw 40 Whatsapp messages:‘ Do you believe? Did you see what happened? Did you hear what happened to Kobe? & # 39; & # 39; he said.

“My first concern was with his family. And it's unbelievable, almost comical, that he died bringing her daughter to play basketball," he said.

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"It's unbelievable. We are all fragile," said Giudici. "Even though Kobe is like a star, a superman, unfortunately we are all fragile."

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