It’s been an emotional few days in the NBA following the sudden death of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

The Bryants were two of nine victims killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. on Sunday. The tragedy has rocked the league Bryant once called home, including players who knew him most.

Kyrie Irving is one of those people.

The Nets guard missed Brooklyn’s game against the New York Knicks on Sunday due to personal reasons. He played in his first game since Bryant’s death Wednesday night, posting 20 points, five rebounds and five assists against the Detroit Pistons.

After the game, Irving got emotional while talking about his friend.

“Just trying to keep my emotions together,” Irving said while choking back tears, via ESPN. “I mean, you’ve got to understand his family and his friends and, you know, it’s just hard to conjure up the words. You try to find a clear-cut message you would send to GiGi and Kobe and everybody that lost their lives in such a tragedy like that, it’s hard. I’ve been trying to do this for the last few days, just trying to get ready for a moment like this, but I just got to let it be, let it flow. I know he’s down watching us, as well as Gigi, as well as the young ballplayers that were on the plane as well. I was just with them at the Mamba Academy, working out with them in the summertime. …

“It’s heartbreaking for all of us, but I’m not the only one dealing with something. So, I think it’s a beautiful thing is that it’s connecting all of us, and his seeds that he’s planted in all of us can continue to grow and his legacy is going to live on forever, obviously. But that man was a philosopher. He was a teacher. He left so many great things here for us to follow, so I’m just going to continue to carry that torch.”

You can check out his full comments in the video below:

Thumbnail photo via Tim Fuller/USA TODAY Sports Imges