“My family went through, in the midst of all this, something that I couldn’t have imagined them experiencing,” the retired NBA player, 50, said on Inside the NBA on Tuesday, January 28. “One of my daughter’s greatest fears is finding out that a parent, one of her parents, [has died] through social media instead of from a loved one or a family member.”
Fox told Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Dwyane Wade, Derek Fisher, Ernie Johnson and Kenny Smith during the TNT special that he “spent time talking to my kids for about 45 minutes” after the news broke of Bryant’s death.
“My best friend, King Rice, who’s a basketball coach … somebody told him that I may have been on the helicopter, and he started calling [me],” the actor said. “I’m seeing King’s number repeatedly going and going and going, and I think he’s worried about me, so I said, ‘I’m gonna talk to my best friend.’ So I answered and said, ‘Hey man, this is crazy about Kobe,’ and he just was bawling and I started crying. And he was like, ‘You’re alive!’ And I was like, ‘Well, yeah. What do you mean?’”
Fox revealed that he also received phone calls from his mother, sister and brother, calling the past few days “a lot to process for all of us.”
“I’m glad that’s over with, but it was hard to deal with because it shook a lot of people in my life,” he added.
After social media users recklessly spread the hoax about Fox, his stepdaughter Jillian Hervey set the record straight on Twitter, writing, “To confirm my stepdad Rick Fox is ALIVE and safe! I just got off the phone with my sister. We are all in shock and deeply saddened but please don’t spread false news.”
The accident in the Calabasas neighborhood of Los Angeles claimed the lives of Bryant, 41, and his daughter Gianna, 13, as well as pilot Ara Zobayan, 50; Gianna’s basketball teammate Alyssa Altobelli, 14, and her parents, John Altobelli, 56, Keri Altobelli, 46; basketball coach Christina Mauser, 38; and family friend Sarah Chester, 45, and her daughter, Payton Chester, 13.
The late L.A. Lakers player, who played with Fox from 1997 to 2004, is survived by his wife, Vanessa Bryant, and daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.