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Peacock's 'Saved by the Bell' reboot almost featured a cameo from late NBA legend Kobe Bryant

The Los Angeles Lakers icon died just days before he was set to film the show.

By Matthew Jackson
Kobe Bryant

Peacock's reboot of the classic teen sitcom Saved by the Bell arrived in the fall of 2020 to solid reviews and audiences who were both surprised and refreshed by its new approach to the beloved original series' format. The show went on to earn a second season and a devoted new group of Bayside fans, but what many viewers don't know is that the show's pilot episode almost featured a cameo from an NBA legend. 

In a new episode of their podcast Dare We Say, revealed exclusively by Entertainment Weekly, former Saved by the Bell reboot stars Josie Totah (Lexi) and Alycia Pascual-Peña (Aisha) revealed that Los Angeles Lakers icon Kobe Bryant was scheduled to film a segment for the show's very first episode early in 2020, but died tragically before he could visit the set.

"A wild tidbit that I don't think a lot of people know, or, it's not important at all because obviously, we are the least of importance when it comes to this legend and his daughter's passing, but we were actually supposed to film with Kobe two days after he died," Totah said. 

The five-time NBA Champion with the Lakers died suddenly on January 26, 2020 when a helicopter carrying Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others crashed into a mountainside in Calabasas, California. His death sent shockwaves through the sports and entertainment world. He was only 41 years old. 

According to Totah and Pascual-Peña, Bryant wanted to be a part of the new Saved by the Bell reboot because he was a fan of the original series. The NBA icon retired from professional basketball in 2016, and entertainment was one of the many interests he pursued post-retirement. In 2018, Bryant won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for Dear Basketball, which he both wrote and narrated. 

"I remember learning that he had passed through one of our best friends Anjelika Washington," Pascual-Peña recalled. "She called me specifically because she knew that I'd been talking about it for a month with her — that I was so excited to meet Kobe on set and I can't believe that he was a fan of the first Saved by the Bell and that he was excited to be on the show."

Bryant's legacy remains long and full of amazing achievements, but the revelation that he didn't live to be part of one of his favorite shows is another reminder of just how suddenly he was gone. 

Saved by the Bell's two seasons are streaming on Peacock.

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