Miles Teller Shares the Conversation With Kobe Bryant That Changed His Life

Sports fans everywhere lost a legend early in 2020, when Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter accident on January 26. One sports fan hit hard by the tragic news was actor Miles Teller, who had developed something of a relationship with Bryant after learning that the NBA legend was a fan of his 2014 movie, Whiplash.

As Teller recounts in a new Men’s Health cover story, he found out that Bryant was a fan of Whiplash when he mentioned it in a 2015 interview with GQ, and after Teller tweeted about how much Bryant enjoying his film meant to him, the two began communicating via social media and also in person in Los Angeles. (The GQ interview, conducted by Chuck Klosterman, found Bryant saying “That’s me” when asked about Whiplash, though Klosterman himself wrote in the piece that it wasn’t clear whether Bryant related to Teller’s character—a young drummer—J.K. Simmons’ character—his abrasive teacher—or someone/something else entirely).

In the new Men’s Health story, Teller—who also shares Bryant’s Philadelphia roots—recalls an interaction he had with Bryant following a Lakers game just before Bryant retired in 2016. “I read about where you talked about studying animals,” Teller remembers himself saying. “To learn from them and how they can conquer their environment and how predators work and how they adapt and overcome.”

The Lakers star responded, smiling. “Miles, not just animals. Plants. Start studying plants,” he said. “The world is your library.”

Teller holds this memory close to his heart. “I’m going to always remember that,” he says; gardening is now a big part of his personal life.

Teller tweeted about his relationship with Bryant on the day that news of his death reached the world. “RIP Kobe ‘Bean’ Bryant. Finding out you were a fan of Whiplash blew my mind,” he wrote. “I couldn’t fathom being in your orbit. You were a hero of mine and I’m forever grateful for moments like this and more we shared over these past few years. Thank you for your kindness and your spirit.”

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