Naomi Osaka’s agent Stuart Duguid has told how the Japanese tennis star became close with the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant. After reaching the world No 1 for the first time in early 2019, Osaka found herself in a new position - she had a target on her back and every opponent was extremely motivated to beat her.
Duguid wanted to help Osaka so he started thinking who could help the Japanese. Bryant, who won five NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, played the game at a high level for two decades and he was one of the most feared players.
Duguid then figured out that Bryant was the one they needed to contact.
Duguid on how Osaka met Bryant
“We got back from Wimbledon on a Tuesday afternoon and sent him an email. He got right back to us and said, ‘Be at my office at 9 AM tomorrow.'
Naomi was pretty shy at the time, so my wife and I went and picked her up and drove her to Orange County. When we got to the office we said, ‘Alright, on you go!’. She thought we were all gonna go together and sit down with him, but we knew if we told her in advance that it was a one-on-one she’d probably be too nervous.
She came out and said, ‘That was the most fascinating hour and a half of my entire life,'” Duguid told Boardroom. After meeting Bryant, Osaka would occasionally text Bryant, asking for advice. Bryant would always reply to Osaka.
Unfortunately, Bryant tragically lost his life in a helicopter crash in 2020 January. “From that point, they became very close. He had a big impact on her and was such a generous individual with time and [demonstrated such a] willingness to help. He’d text her back in like five minutes; he was so awesome,” Duguid added.