ROBBIE KEANE has paid a heartfelt tribute to the late Kobe Bryant following the NBA's death on Sunday.
The former Ireland international took to Instagram to share a photograph of him and his son meeting Bryant during his time in Los Angeles while playing for LA Galaxy.
Bryant, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna perished with seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
A number of major sports stars posted messages of grief in light of the news, including David Beckham and Tiger Woods.
Keane briefly shared a city with Bryant during his stint with Galaxy, just as the NBA star's career in basketball was winding down.
The Tallaght man described the former Lakers shooting guard as "gracious and kind" and "a true inspiration" after offering condolences to 41-year-old's family.
"The world is in mourning for the legend that was Kobe Bryant and his beautiful daughter Gianna," wrote Keane.
"I still cannot comprehend this tragedy and I can’t effectively put into words my sadness and condolences to his wife Vanessa, his daughters and the other families who lost loved ones.
"On a personal note, I got to know Kobe when I was playing for the LA galaxy and him for the LA Lakers. I loved to take my son Robert to the Staples Centre to watch him play he was so gifted and special and everybody around him loved him.
"He was always gracious and kind, a very nice person on and off the court, he showed great support for other sports and often come to a Galaxy game with his family, he was a family man.
"I was lucky to witness his last game for the Lakers in the Staples Centre, it’s something I’ll always cherish the pure emotion of the fans how much he meant to them, a true inspiration! I was asked before the game to say a few words on screen I mean how do you some up Kobe Bryant and do him justice but I meant every word I said.
"Kobe you are a legend, the best there has ever been, thank you for the memories! Your legacy will live on through your children. Thank you Kobe, sleep well we will all miss you! RIP"
Well said, Robbie.