It still feels unreal. The untimely deaths of Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester and Ara Zobayan shocked the world. Not the nation, but the entire world.
For me, I have been following basketball since the early 2000s. I first got into basketball because of the dynamic duo that is: Shaq and Kobe. That tag team consisted of the first idols (aside from my parents) I looked up to. Dominance, championships, and fun was all I saw and it created a feeling of passion for sports that I had never felt before. I even named my pair of turtles Shaq and Kobe.
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. Shaq was traded and Kobe stayed with the Lakers his entire career. However, I always kept up with Kobe’s journey; sometimes rooting for him, sometimes covering my eyes as he would drop 40 on my team easy. No matter who Kobe played, you knew he had the killer mentality. He was a master at his craft and his stats, records and five championships show for it. To this day, many say “Kobe!” As they take a shot in honor of his phenomenal scoring ability.
Many people lost a superhero in Kobe. The Black Mamba was given his nickname because of the cold blooded killer he was. For our generation, we had never seen someone so ruthless on the court on such a consistent basis. He always preached working to be the best you could be. Whether it be in sports, a career, or in your family, the beloved “Mamba Mentality” will be a phrase that always sticks as a motivator to be better.
He approached everything as if losing was never an option. He was idolized for his uncommon vision and lovable personality. It has been evident through all the tributes pouring through social media these past few days.
And the tributes were not just from former NBA players. He has been an idol for all stars of all sports: football, soccer, tennis, etc. Every sport has been effected by Kobe in some shape or form. He has been an advocate for women’s teams such as the US Women’s Nation Soccer Team and the WNBA helping them get the spotlight and platform they much deserve.
It didn’t matter if you loved him or hated him, you respected him. And that respect eventually would turn into love as he retired in 2016 and we all got to understand The Black Manba off the court, the man that is Kobe Bean Bryant.
We learned about his passion for being a husband/father quite quickly after he retired. His daughter Gianna Bryant, or GiGi, resurrected his passion for the game as both a father and teacher. He was so happy at the opportunity to both spend a lot of time with her and pass down his knowledge of the game. GiGi was nicknamed “Mambacita” as fans were excited to see what was to come from her playing career. The bond they built is something that we all strive for. We are able to truly appreciate their relationship because we were able to watch it grow. To study how to be the best version of ourselves and pass on our own knowledge to future generations.
I could go on and on about the eternal legacy that Kobe built for himself and those who have followed. But the truth is this: Kobe was an icon of a basketball player, one of the greatest of all time. We will always have fond memories of growing up and watching him ball. But we also will have his off court presence that stays with us as well. He used his platform for the greater good, to push all of us to be the best we can be. To tell someone we love them, to be passionate about the things we do. To strive for greatness. Life is short, but if we all practice what Kobe has been preaching while he was with us, I believe that is the best way to honor his legacy.
“Have a good time. Life is too short to get bogged down and be discouraged. You have to keep moving. You have to keep going. Put one foot in front of the other, smile and just keep on rolling.” – Kobe Bean Bryant, 1978-2020