Jan. 26 was the two-year anniversary of a fatal helicopter crash that cost the lives of nine people, including Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant.
When this news broke that Sunday morning, millions of basketball enthusiasts lost a piece of themselves. As time stood still from the hills in Ventura County, all the way to the depths of Compton, California residents tried to process how this could happen to a public figure as big as Kobe.
Kobe Bryant was beloved by the majority of the basketball community: those who played with him, those who played against him, and all those who watched him from the stands or at home. Whether you grew up loving basketball or you could not care less about the sport, you had to know the name Kobe Bryant.
Vanessa Bryant, the late Kobe’s wife, spoke at his induction into the Hall of Fame in May of 2021. She said, “One of the reasons why my husband played through injuries and pain was because he remembered being a little kid, sitting in the nosebleeds with his dad and watching his favorite player play.” She also shared a story about the appreciation he had for his fans. Bryant had said, “What about the fans that saved up to watch me play just once?” He put his career at risk, playing through injuries for those who paid good money to watch him. This goes to show how great of a human being he was. He was not just a successful NBA basketball player; he was a legend, in our eyes. Everyone has yelled “Kobe!” while shooting a crumpled up ball of paper into a trash can; that is how much of an impact he had on society. There are numerous murals in cities throughout the world, all representing Kobe Bryant and his significance to the vast majority. The lasting impact that he has had on multiple generations is inexplicable.
“Hard work outweighs talent — every time.” — Kobe Bryant
What Bryant happens to be best known for is his Mamba Mentality. This mentality became a persona, in part with his other outstanding features, which made him a great player and an even better human being. With his hard work and competitive spirit, there was every reason to root for Bryant. Kobe Bryant pushed himself to be greater than anyone could see him becoming, using his failure to accelerate his drive. Bryant showed us that anything is possible; the sky is our limit.
From growing up in Reggio Emilia, Italy and Philadelphia, Penn., to becoming one of the greatest basketball players to ever do it, Bryant had a lively career. To his name, he had five NBA championships and 18 All-Star appearances; additionally, he was the fourth leading scorer in NBA History. These are just some of the numerous accomplishments on Bryant’s resume. He even won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for his part in “Dear Basketball.”
It is a shame we only got a glimpse of what Bryant could do outside of basketball. He had so much to accomplish, and it was not a matter of how, it was a matter of when. Bryant taught us best; hard work and dedication can make you the best at any given thing.
Let us remember Kobe Bryant for his success and lasting impact on all of us. Mamba Out.
Featured Image: Courtesy of kobemural.com