Two Sundays ago, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, watching people discuss the Grammys and casting their predictions for categories such as Album of the Year and Song of the Year. Suddenly, I refreshed my timeline and saw TMZ reporting that NBA legend Kobe Bryant was dead. To say the least, I was in utter shock.
Along with many others, I hoped that the TMZ article was false or that a mistake was made. But sadly, this was not the case. On Sunday, January 26, Bryant and his 13-year old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash that transported seven others including Keri, John and Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah and Payton Chester and the pilot of the helicopter Ara Zobayan. The crash occurred at 9:47 on Sunday morning PT. Authorities are still investigating the potential causes of the crash, but foggy weather may be to blame for the tragic event.
Talks about Ariana Grande and Billie Ellish suddenly shifted to talks about sadness and death, with rumors and speculations about the number of people on the helicopter and how the tragedy went down.
I then viewed the trending page on Twitter, which is normally filled with various topics, from potlicis to sports to current events, just to see all 26 trends in the United States concerning Kobe Bryant. From “Not Kobe” to “RIP GOAT” to “Damn Kobe,” people expressed their utter heartbreak and sadness that the sudden moment brought.
Just two weeks ago Kobe was trending for something completely different, with a viral video of him and his daughter on the sidelines of a basketball game breaking down what was going on. Many people put their own spin on the video, captioning with funny memes and jokes that pertained to various lighthearted topics.
My guardian angel telling me what we not finna do this year pic.twitter.com/8fVaGPdTA7
— Son of Isaac (@mensahmusa) January 1, 2020
From childhood, millions of people adored Bryant. My generation (Gen Z) and especially the generation above me (millennials) tend to view Bryant as their Micheal Jordan, considering him to be one of the best of all time and comparing him to other greats like Lebron James as well.
In elementary and middle school, I vividly remember everyone walking around and shooting their trash into the trash can, yelling “Kobe” when they made the shot. Many people continue to take part in this fun and harmless act, though it will never be the same now.
Many people used the phrase “Mamba Mentality” as well, a statement that Kobe branded and appealed to and inspired many athletes. “If you see me in a fight with a bear, pray for the bear,” Bryant famously stated.
Millions of black boys and girls around the world were largely influenced by Bryant, some even citing him as the reason they even pursued the game of basketball. He impacted countless lives around the world through his amazing skill and motivation for greatness.
Bryant was arguably one of the best African American players of all time, creating an example for black children around the world and giving them a role model to look up to. In his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers he was an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team, five-time NBA Champion and two-time NBA Finals MVP. He set the tone for success and made people strive for greatness.
He inspired a generation of players, from 2018 NBA MVP James Harden to athletes as young as Atlanta Hawks All-Star guard Trae Young, that used to rush home after school just to watch him play.
Along with Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna was a basketball star as well, as she had hopes of possibly playing in the WNBA as well.
In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel in 2018, Bryant stated that “The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans would come up to me and she’ll be standing next to me. And they’ll be like, ‘You’ve gotta have a boy, you and I gotta have a boy. You gotta have somebody to carry on your tradition, the legacy.”
“She’s like, ‘Oy, I got this,”‘ Bryant said. “I’m like ‘that’s right,'” Bryant said. “Yes, you do, you got this.”
Braynt never ceased to inspire many children, including his daughter Gianna. With her dad’s coaching and love, she was on track to become an amazing basketball player, possibly living up to her dad’s greatness.
“People need to follow Kobe’s lead and I’m not just talking about NBA players,” Los Angeles Sparks forward Chiney Ogwumike told the Los Angeles Times in May. “A lot of men tend to speak on [women’s basketball] without knowing it and a lot of men tend to be ignorant about women’s basketball players. But, I bet you would want your daughter to play in the WNBA if she’s good at basketball. So follow his lead.”
The tragic deaths of both of these athletes have led people to become struck with grief, with many fans lining up outside of the Mamba Academy and Staples Center with his jersey, flowers and notes to both the player and his daughter.
Despite his death, Kobe will always be remembered for his amazing skill and admiralty, both on and off of the court.
Outside of basketball, Bryant donated to several charities, volunteering for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, NBA Cares, and operating the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation. Bryant also opened up the Mamba Academy, where he trained young athletes, which supports 50,000 athletes. At the academy, he coached his daughter Gianna’s youth basketball team.
With the loss of Kobe Bryant, many feel lost and out of touch. As the death was so sudden, many are reflecting on the fact that you can be here for one second and gone the next. As a prominent role model in the black community, Bryant will always be cherished and loved.