'His star transcends sport': Conor McGregor with touching tribute to Kobe Bryant
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'His star transcends sport': Conor McGregor with touching tribute to Kobe Bryant

CONOR MCGREGOR has paid tribute to basketball legend Kobe Bryant following the NBA star's death on Sunday.

McGregor said that Bryant's "star transcends sport" before expressing his regret over never having met the man.

The Irishman was speaking to reporters inside the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, California ahead of the Grammy Awards on Sunday evening - in the very arena where Bryant forged one of the most successful NBA careers of all time.

"It’s very very sad news, you know," McGregor said.

"It’s iconic that I’m here [Staples Center] and he used to play in this arena as well, right? So, it’s just very sad news. Lost his daughter as well.

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"It’s hard to kind of get up for this event, right? I’m very happy to be here, but I’m sad at the same time. It’s just a very sad time."

The UFC fighter, who recorded an impressive TKO victory against Donald 'Cowboy' Cerrone in just 40 seconds at UFC 246 last weekend, explained to reporters that while basketball wasn't the most popular sport back in Ireland, Kobe's stardom was such that he even made an impact on those unfamiliar with the game.

"Yeah, well for me, the first time I ever came to America, Kobe was one of the big stars and one of the men that jumped out," McGregor added.

"We don’t really understand basketball back home too much, you know? But Kobe, his star transcends sport, and a great man and I would’ve loved to meet him. It’s a very sad day."

McGregor went on to say he'd found inspiration from the way Bryant had begun managing his life after retirement.

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"I feel sad, you know. [Kobe was] a sportsman who mapped his way passed sport. I'm in a position trying to manage my life after sport, and Kobe was a man I'd look up to. He's done that.

"I feel this today in a deep way. I don't know what to say.

"All we can do now is celebrate the legacy that that man has left behind. And what a legacy.

"Rest in peace. God rest that man's soul, and may God give us the strength to carry on."