Former Los Angeles Lakers player Rick Fox responded to rumors that he died along with former teammate Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash.
There were rumors being spread via social media on Sunday afternoon, claiming Fox died in the crash in Southern California.
“I spent time talking to my kids for about 45 minutes as this was all happening,” he said on TNT’s “Inside the NBA.” “I went into full-blown denial [hearing about Kobe]. One of my daughter’s greatest fears is finding out that a parent, one of her parents would be lost, through social media instead of from a loved one or a family member. She, fortunately, called me and we just were talking and crying about the news of Kobe. And my son.”
“So I was talking to my kids, just trying to spend the time with them and then the phone just started going off and I’m thinking to myself, everybody wants to talk about Kobe and I right now want to be with my kids and my family. And then all of a sudden, my best friend, King Rice [called],” Fox said.
Fox recalled that Rice, in the phone call, “just was bawling … And I started crying and he was like, ‘You’re alive.’ And I’m thinking, well yeah, what do you mean? And it was in that moment that my phone just started going and my mom and my sister and my brother [all called].”
The rumors, he added, “shook a lot of people in my life.”
After the fake reports spread, a woman claiming to be his stepdaughter wrote on Twitter that Fox is alive.
“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,” she wrote on Sunday.
The helicopter crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which dispatched a team to probe the matter.
Former Laker Shaquille O’Neal, who played on Lakers with Kobe and Fox, broke down in tears on the TNT show.
“I didn’t want to believe it…I haven’t felt a pain that sharp in a while,” O’Neal said. “Forty-seven years old, I’ve lost two grandmothers…lost my sister. And now I’ve lost a little brother.”
“The fact that we’re not going to be able to joke at his Hall of Fame Ceremony, we’re not going to be able to say, ‘Ha! I got five, you got four’, the fact that we’re not gonna be able to say, ‘If we had stayed together, we would’ve gotten 10,’ those are the things you can’t get back,” he said.