The two last saw each other on New Year's Eve.
Jay-Z saw Kobe Bryant less than a month before Kobe, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash and their last conversation was all about how proud the basketball legend was of Gianna.
The rapper was asked about Bryant's passing while speaking at Columbia University on Tuesday night, the question catching him by surprise as he gathered his thoughts.
“Just a great human being and was in a great space in his life.” pic.twitter.com/QJ1PTqkPmq— Roc Nation Sports (@RocNationSports) February 5, 2020
"So Kobe was a guy that looked up to me and we've hung out multiple times," he replied, saying the two last saw each other at Jay-Z and Beyonce's home on New Year's Eve.
"He was just in the greatest space I've seen him in and he, one of the last things he said to me was, 'You gotta see Gianna play basketball,'" he recalled. "That was one of the most hurtful things, because he was so proud and the look on his face was like, I looked at him and said, 'Oh she's going to be the best female basketball player in the world.'"
Jay-Z said their deaths were really hard for him and Knowles to take, adding, "I took that, taking that really tough."
"That's all I'll say on that," he added, saying Kobe was "just a great human being and was in a great space in his life."
Roc Nation paid tribute to Kobe and Gianna the day of the crash, calling him "A transcendent global icon." The company added, "Our deepest sympathies are with the Bryant family. A Father first. Hold tightly to the ones you love. Rest In Peace, Gianna."
Knowles shared her own tribute to Instagram, sharing a photo of the two at a basketball game with the caption, "I will continue to diligently pray for your Queens. You are deeply missed beloved Kobe."