Friend of Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods Learns of Death on Golf Course

"We had our 20-year run together, and it's, well, shocking," Woods said

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News of Kobe Bryant's death in a helicopter crash in the Los Angeles area sent shock waves through the sports community and across the world. Players and fans at the Farmers Insurance Open in Torrey Pines expressed sadness in light of the tragic news Sunday morning.

Tiger Woods, whose own career has run parallel to Bryant's since 1996, said he learned of Bryant's death as he walked off the 18th and final green Sunday.

"We had our 20-year run together, and it's, well, shocking," Woods said.

In 1996, Bryant had just entered the NBA and Woods was just turning professional out of Stanford University at age 20.

Over 20 years later, 44-year-old Woods learned of his longtime friend's passing while competing at the Farmers Insurance Open.

“I didn’t really understand why everyone was saying ‘Do it for Mamba.’” People yell things all the time and I was just plotting along and doing my own thing and when Joey told me that…," Woods said at Torrey Pines Sunday.

His caddie, Joe LaCava, found out about Kobe Bryant's death early in the final round but did not tell Woods until they were walking off the 18th and final green.

Tiger Woods on death of Kobe Bryant

"I was trying to win the golf tournament. Joey realized that I was locked into trying to do that," Woods said. "It's unbelievable, the reality that he is no longer here."

Woods, a southern California native, grew up a Lakers fan.

When he owned a home in Newport Beach, he and Kobe Bryant also shared many early workouts together. They bonded over the mental journey and preparation required to become the best at what you do.

"We really connected on more the mental side of it, the prep: How much it takes to be prepared," Woods said.

Woods said Bryant spent plenty of time practicing, but he spent more hours watching game footage, trying to figure out how to improve.

"One of the most shocking, tragic days that I've ever been a part of," Woods told NBC 7.

Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Sunday. The Los Angeles Lakers star played 20 years in the NBA, inspiring athletes everywhere.

Kobe Bryant created a wealth of memories, overcome a host of setbacks and reached a multitude of milestones during his 20-year NBA career. Bryant was also a five-time NBA champion and 18-time NBA All-Star.

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