‘He gave his life to the Lord:’ Kobe Bryant prayed at church hours before his death

Remembering Kobe Bryant

LOS ANGELES (CNN) — Kobe Bryant’s pastor says he went to pray at his church just hours before his life was cut short in a deadly helicopter crash. 

“He just came and went quietly and prayed and gave his life to the Lord. And yesterday he had to give it back,” Father Steve Sallot said.

Sallot is the priest at Our Lady Queen of Angels in Newport Beach, Calif.

“We shook hands, I saw that he had blessed himself because there was holy water on his forehead. So I knew that he went in the chapel and prayed, came out and blessed himself. We spoke for a minute, shook hands and off he went,” Sallot said.

Sallot said he saw Bryant just before the 7 a.m. Mass on Sunday. The two chatted for a couple minutes, and then Bryant left for the airport. Sallot said Bryant wasn’t able to stay for the service of the day but he had been in the prayer chapel.

“Normally I don’t really chat with him because as I said he would come in and leave quietly. And I respected that space for him. And yesterday I just happened to come in the same door as he was going out. And we call that ‘the backhand of grace.’ We got a moment for me that was grace. And hopefully, for him, it was as well,” Sallot said.

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