Pelinka said he received Bryant's last texts to him shortly before the January helicopter crash in Calabasas that killed the basketball legend, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others.
Speaking from a podium at a Staples Center memorial service, Pelinka said that Bryant wanted his help to secure an internship for a daughter of his friend John Altobelli, who also died in the crash.
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He described Bryant's last act as "heroic," noting that Bryant wanted to "use his platform to bless and shape a young girl's future."
Pelinka recalled how Bryant's famous "Mamba mentality" extended to whatever he set his mind to -- including picking up the game of tennis after his NBA retirement and learning to play Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" on piano.
Pelinka then introduced Alicia Keys, who performed a heart-rending version of the sonata onstage.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.