Inside Taylor Swift's Friendship With The Late Kobe Bryant & His Family

In January 2024, Taylor Swift wore a pendant with some text that seemed indecipherable at first because of the image quality. But after years of snooping around for Swift's Easter eggs, her fans have become detectives in their own right. So it didn't take them too long to figure out that the pendant had a Kobe Bryant quote: "Bet on yourself," (via X, formerly known as Twitter). The quote has seemingly become a mantra for the world-conquering pop star because she also used it in her 2023 TIME Person of the Year interview. 

When Swift took her Eras Tour concert film to theaters, she chose a non-traditional route and did it without a partner. When the interviewer asked her for some insight into the decision, she explained, "Ultimately I did what I tend to do more and more often these days, which is to bet on myself." Although that's a smart and simple philosophy to live by, it has an even greater meaning for Swift because it comes from someone she's had a deep bond with since 2015.

That year, Swift performed her 16th sold-out concert at the Staples Center for her 1989 tour and made history as the artist with the most sold-out shows at the arena. One night, she brought Bryant onto the stage to surprise the crowd, but it turns out he was there to surprise her with a banner that celebrated the achievement. During the unveiling, Bryant said that 16 was a special number for him because the Los Angeles Lakers had won 16 championships at the time.

Taylor Swift quickly earned Kobe Bryant's respect

After Kobe Bryant presented Taylor Swift with the banner, the celebrated athlete took to X to further encourage his friend on her path to success. When the basketball legend appeared on "The Jordan Harbinger Show," in 2019, the host jokingly asked if he listened to Swift's music and, to his surprise, Bryant was happy to confirm that he did. "I think it's important to listen to people who do great things, you know?" the Lakers player answered simply. 

Bryant reasoned that Swift had not only managed to garner tremendous success but also sustain it over the years. The simple act was such a rarity that it had earned his respect and piqued his curiosity with how she did it, so he listened to her music to learn something from it. However, that wasn't the only reason for Bryant's admiration, as he gushed, "She's a sweet kid. I mean, she was a sweetheart to my girls before she even blew up and became Taylor Swift." 

As he noted, "That's why I'll always, if she needs anything from me, I'm always there." Given how much he supported her, it's only natural that Swift would be devastated by Bryant's passing in 2020. In an X post, she wrote, "My heart is in pieces hearing the news of this unimaginable tragedy," and later added, "Kobe meant so much to me and to us all." The pop star also offered her love and support to his family and continues to be there for his daughters.

Swift has a close relationship with his daughters

Whenever Taylor Swift releases an album, she sends out promotional care packages to her loved ones. Kobe Bryant's eldest daughter, Natalia, a longtime Swiftie, was overjoyed when she received one for "Red" and another for "Folklore," taking to Instagram Stories to share her excitement. Natalia even included a nod to the singer-songwriter in her IMG Models profile: "I just love how she's always, she's very positive but she also empowers young girls and she empowers women, and I just think that's so important in life. And she's always been one of my biggest role models." 

She also revealed that "Reputation" was her favorite album and "Getaway Car" her go-to track from the LP. In 2023, Natalia, her two younger sisters, Bianka and Capri, and their mother, Vanessa Bryant, got to live out their wildest dreams by attending the Eras Tour. During every performance of her song "22," Swift hands her hat to a lucky fan, and Bianka was the chosen one for her show. 

They shared two sweet hugs, and Swift seemingly mouthed "I love you" to her. Vanessa honored her longstanding relationship with her late husband, Kobe, by wearing a jacket that said "Swiftie" with a photo of Swift and him from the Staples Center. It also featured a heart that read "Say you'll remember me," as an ode to Swift's "Wildest Dreams," (via Today). The star even broke her rule of not meeting people after the show for the Bryant family and posed for photos with them.