On January 26, 2020, the world was changed forever.
By now, we all know the story. The helicopter. The fog. The Calabasas hills. Five people. No, that report was incorrect. Nine people. Including his thirteen-year-old daughter, the future basketball superstar Gianna “Gigi” Bryant.
I was and still am at a loss for words. The impact Kobe Bryant had on this world in his 41 years of life is simply incredible. While searching for the words to describe the loss of such an iconic and simply legendary figure, I decided to ask others what impact he had on their lives.
“I always saw Kobe as the perfect athlete. He was a competitor, hard worker, and loyal to his team to the end.” – Eli Tyszko, student
“Kobe epitomized what it meant to be a good dad. Not just a father. But a dad. He was proud of his daughters and everything they were doing. A true family man. Married to Vanessa since she was 18!” – Kaden Lemon, student
“Kobe just inspired so many people. You didn’t have to play basketball to know who Kobe was. Everyone knew Kobe. He worked hard at everything he did, and that’s what we should carry on.” – Landon Carroll, student
Kobe Bryant was truly one of the most influential people of the modern era. Words are hard to find when describing his complicated but decorated legacy. A five-time NBA Champion, but also accused of rape. A notorious competitor, who’s career arc took him from the fiery and slam dunking sidekick that led to his three-peat with Shaquille O’Neal, to the cold-blooded killer that arrived in with number 24, the Mamba, with his chin stuck out and a cold passion matched by no other. Then the late years, when his body started to fail him, as he described in his Oscar-winning short film, Dear Basketball:
” My heart can take the poundingKOBE BRYANT, Dear Basketball
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye. “
He grew up on the biggest stage on the planet, and through that, he grew as a person while also maintaining what made him different. What will always make him different:
The Mamba Mentality.
The piece of Kobe pushed him every day. A legendary work ethic. The belief in himself. The belief that every shot he took would go in, that every shot he took was the best shot, that every game he played was his to lose. I remember a friend telling me a story, about when Kobe was a rookie and playing against the Bulls and superstar Michael Jordan, a teammate told him, “No matter what you do, don’t look him in the eye. That’s when he kills you.” Kobe then replied something along the lines of, “Why would I be scared of him?”.
One of my favorite things about Kobe Bryant is that no matter where he was, whatever the circumstances may be, was just how cool he looked. He simply looked cool at everything he did. And it’s because he always knew what he was doing. And he always knew that he could do it.
There’s plenty to be said about Kobe Bryant. Plenty about his Hall of Fame basketball career, his growth into a wonderful and engaged father, the rape allegations that will tarnish his legacy forever, but the growth and regret from that experience that shaped him into a mentor and inspiration for so many. However, I argue that the part of him that will live on forever in is his competitive nature and indomitable will and unshakable belief in himself. The Mamba Mentality will live on in the hearts and souls of all athletes and competitors for years to come, pushing them to get up earlier, push themselves to the limits, and above all else, believe in themselves to achieve anything they set their mind to.
Thank you, Kobe.
Love you forever.