Bryant was killed in a in January age 41, along with eight others including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna.
Speaking to an audience at Columbia University, Jay-Z said he spent New Year’s Eve with Bryant, and one of their last conversations was about Bryant’s love for his daughter.
“He was just in the greatest space that I’ve seen him in,” the rapper said.
“One of the last things he said to me was, ‘You’ve gotta see Gianna play basketball.’ And 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.’ He was just so proud. So that’s really a tough one.
“My wife and I have taken that really tough.”
Beyoncé was one of the many stars who paid tribute to Bryant following his death, sharing a photo of him with Gianni.
“I will continue to diligently pray for your Queens,” she wrote. “You are deeply missed beloved Kobe.”
It was to the same audience at Columbia University that Jay-Z denied speculation that himself and Beyoncé were staging a protest at the Super Bowl last week.
The couple and their daughter Blue Ivy remained seated as Demi Lovato performed The Star Spangled Banner.
Jay-Z said him and Beyoncé staying seated “just happened” as they were so caught up in Lovato’s performance.