Los Angeles — No one worked harder than Kobe Bryant on the basketball court. But he also devoted much of his time to the Make-a-Wish Foundation and helped grant more than 200 wishes during his time with the Lakers.
One of his fans, Jeffrey McKenzie, was born with sickle cell anemia. He wasn't supposed to live past 5. He said he was in the hospital countless times, calling it his "first" home. Eventually, the Make-a-Wish Foundation stepped in.
"He was like, my Superman. So I just had to meet him," McKenzie said.
Eventually, an 8-year-old McKenzie met his idol.
"At first I freaked out. I was just, like, stunned," McKenzie said.
His mom, Linda, said Kobe wouldn't meet the kids in groups. He took the time to meet with them one-on-one. McKenzie even got to meet Bryant a second time when Linda sneaked him out of the hospital. The third time was outside the Staples Center locker room.
McKenzie, now 27 years old and a real estate agent with Douglas Elliman, returned to the arena to pay his respects to Bryant and his daughter Gianna.
"I literally look at him like one of my fathers. Like my dad and Kobe Bryant, those are the top two men in my life," he said.
Now, he wants to be aone day, just like Bryant.
"I wanna be there for my daughters like he was," McKenzie said.
for more features.