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‘He was really invested in it': Radford family recalls impact of meeting Bryant through Make-A-Wish

Henry Moore survived rare and painful disease before meeting his idol at age 8

RADFORD, Va. – Henry Moore, now a college student, still remembers the day he met his idol.

“I will never forget it. That's for sure.”

Fans around the world are remembering the life and legacy of NBA star Kobe Bryant, who, along with his 13-year-old daughter, died in a helicopter crash Sunday in California. The Moore family is just one example of the impact the legendary basketball player had on many around the world.

“That's insane that, just like that, he's gone,” Moore said.

Moore battled an extremely rare and painful disease, Kostmann's syndrome, undergoing two bone marrow transplants before he got to visit with Bryant when he was 8 years old.

The Radford native met Bryant in 2008 through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He and his family traveled to Los Angeles to watch Kobe score 52 points in a win over the Dallas Mavericks.

They thought the visit after the game might be quick -- a “hello” and a picture -- but the Laker had much more in mind.

“He was super nice, super caring. He picked me up, swung me around. He was a really, really nice humble guy,” Moore said.

Bryant signed 30 items for them and they met his family, including his two daughters. Twelve years later, Moore still remembers how he and his favorite basketball player talked hoops for almost an hour.

“It wasn't just some quick, 20-minute meet and greet fake thing. He was really invested in it. So it really meant a lot to me,” Moore said.

He said Kobe asked him about his illness and treatment and Moore impressed the superstar by telling him all the facts he knew about his career.

The conversation inspired Moore.

“It was just a really, really, really special day. He was a great man. I’ll always look up to him forever and always take the advice that he gave me,” he said.

The moment, which the family describes as life-changing, came during a painful and difficult time. To this day, it’s difficult for Henry’s father Patrick to discuss how much the visit meant to them.

“You really can’t imagine the pain he went through,” Patrick Moore said, holding back tears in his Radford law office Monday. “To see your child have so much joy after so many years of pain and sickness, it’s a gift we’ll never forget, ever.”

The Moore family says they’re shocked by the news, and their thoughts are with the Bryant family.

“It was life-changing, and I think he gave Henry a lot of hope and a lot of encouragement about, you don’t ever give up, ever. You go at it 24/7,” Patrick Moore said.

They’re just one example of how Bryant’s dedication to the game will live on in the next generation.