Moving Story Of Kobe Bryant Secretly Visiting Terminally Ill Child In Hospital’s ICU

Photo Credit: Reed Saxon / The Associated Press

Moving Story Of Kobe Bryant Secretly Visiting Terminally Ill Child In Hospital’s ICU


Kobe Bryant was not only a legend on the court, but off the court as well. He’s done so much for others, and often didn’t even want anyone to talk about it, that’s why he’s done a lot of charity work in secrecy.

For Kobe, it wasn’t about the good press, for Kobe it was about the cause and the people. 

One of the incredible stories was now brought to surface in a recent Facebook post from Kristen O’Connor Hecht.

O’Connor Hecht is the wife of former Phoenix Suns director of corporate partnerships Tom Hecht, and worked at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix.

Ahead of a Lakers game in Phoenix, a cardiologist she worked with asked her if her husband could ask the Lakers for Kobe Bryant to sign a basketball for a terminally ill young fan who was also named Kobe.

Bryant himself got wind of the story and surprised the boy at the hospital, without even notifying PR. Kobe even offered to pay for the kid’s treatment, but young Kobe unfortunately was too ill already and died the following week.


“So I have a story…When we lived in Phoenix, frequently my and Tom’s paths would cross in our work. A pediatric cardiologist I worked with asked me if Tom could get an autographed something from the Lakers for a 5 year old dying patient who was named Kobe. He was from one of the reservations in Arizona where basketball is life. I called Tom at the Phoenix Suns making the request, believing that there would be virtually no way this would happen. The Lakers were coming to play the Suns later in the week.

A day later Tom called me and said, “He’ll do it!” I was thrilled and thought I’d bring the ball or whatever it was to work. Tom said, “No, he read your story and he wants to come and meet the little boy.” I was floored! So the next day, with the support of the Colangelo family, a limousine brought Kobe Bryant to my office. Under a cloak of secrecy – neither security or PR people were informed (I got in a little trouble for that but it was so worth it!) the three of us scrambled up a back staircase to this little boy’s room in cardiac ICU. For the better part of an hour they played basketball, passing it back and forth, with little Kobe, laughing, his sweet Mama smiling and laughing.

Several autographed items were left and many photos were taken. The machines keeping him alive were dinging, whirring and alarming and his doc was just grinning from ear to ear, as Tom and I stood nervously watching this unbelievable scene unfold before us. As we got back in the limo, Kobe turned to me and said, “Kristen, what can I do to help? Is it a financial thing? Because I can take care of that.” It wasn’t. (The little boy had a heart defect and was too ill for a transplant.) I was floored. I was floored not only by his sincerity and offer of generosity, but the kindness and warmth he displayed.

Little Kobe passed away the following week. About three weeks later I got a letter from Little Kobe’s mom describing the power in those moments. She said those were the most joyful moments of his entire life. The photos were the only photos she had of him smiling. According to Kobe Bryant’s PR people he did this everywhere but the deal was – no PR. From that day on he has been my hero and when people would tell me they didn’t like him, I would say, “Let me tell you a story…”. May God shine eternal light upon your soul, Kobe.”


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