I’ve never seen Kobe in person or had a personal relationship with him, but he was an inspiration ever since I started watching basketball. Even though I am a fan of basketball and have love for the sport, Kobe wasn’t just a basketball player. He was more than just a player on the court.
As my love for Kobe grew over the years, I started to follow his presence in the media. I watched his life play out every day, from becoming one of the greatest basketball players to ever step on the court, to becoming an amazing father and training his daughters in the sport that he loved unconditionally.
His impact on basketball was as tremendous as the work ethic he brought to the organization, which was impeccable. His work ethic ultimately became known as the “Mamba mentality,” with people all of the world knowing his nickname as the “Black Mamba.”
His influence and relentless work ethic weren’t just a huge impact on the culture of basketball. Even people who are not huge basketball fans have probably heard his name or been impacted by Kobe.
View this post on Instagram
I’ve never been much of a sports fan but Kobe Bryant was a hero to me and it was his words and way of thinking and living that lifted me up during times where I felt like I couldn’t get off the ground. When I was 16 and going through what felt like an excruciatingly painful period in my life, I first saw Kobe’s MUSE documentary, and the mamba mentality is the only thing got me through every single performance. He was fighting inner demons, and so was I, and the way he used them to fuel his game on the court made me feel like I could use them to fuel me onstage. At my weakest moments I would channel a different person like he did, because when I felt broken and lost offstage, he taught me how to use my own pain, he taught me how to access strength I didn’t know I had, because on my worst days, I thought of Kobe and suddenly I could do things I didn’t think I could do. I watched every interview, I read every quote of his, and I wish that he knew how many times he saved me, how many times he helped me access a champion in myself that I couldn’t have seen on my own, how many times he helped me use my own demons, how many times he taught me how to use pain to make me a better person, how many times he taught me by example about life by the way he carried himself and the way he saw things…. and I never got the chance to tell him this in person. I’ve watched only two basketball games in my life, but what Kobe did for me changed the course of my life. I can’t imagine how many people he did this for. His legacy will live on in the lives and minds and souls that he touched, he made his mark not only in the game, but in humanity itself. He is a hero to me forever. Mamba forever 💔#kobebryant #giannabryant #restinpeace 💔
Even as a middle schooler, before I was interested in any sports, I remember my peers shouting “Kobe!” as they threw their paper ball into the trash can. His name was not just iconic in today’s generation, it was a legacy. He left behind his mamba mentality in so many of the stars we see in the NBA now, such as Trae Young, Jayson Tatum, and Lebron James. The work ethic and the amazing talents he brought to the game of basketball has changed the culture of the game forever.
As a retired Lakers player, his passing this week has been felt by everyone in the Los Angeles community.
Bought flowers to bring to staples center. When the florist saw that I wanted purple and yellow she asked, “for Kobe?” I nodded. When she finished I asked what I owed her. she shook her head, handed me the flowers and said “it’s LA”. I almost cried. LAs love for Kobe is powerful
— Zach Schwartz (@zachzachzach) January 26, 2020
Kobe was the heart of Los Angles and was looked up to by countless numbers of people in the community, as they painted murals and mourned the loss of a competitor, father, brother, leader, and a legend.
Sunday’s helicopter crash also claimed the life of Bryant’s daughter, Gianna, 13. They were reportedly on their way to one of her basketball games when the accident occurred. With Kobe as her father and with his same work ethic embedded in her, Gianna showed strong promise that she would dominate the WNBA the same way her father did.
His tragic passing on Jan. 26, was an extremely tragic day, not just the basketball and the Los Angeles community, but the whole world. With millions of people paying their respects on social media to the beloved basketball superstar, it was clear that his impact was global.
As the news of his death gained traction in the media, even players who were scheduled to play on Sunday were emotional. Every team in the NBA that played that day took an eight- second or 24-second violation out of respect for Bryant’s legacy (8 and 24 were Kobe’s jersey numbers). Seeing all the teams honoring his life enhanced that the NBA was more than just an organization of basketball players but an organization of family and people who share the same love for the sport of basketball.
My deepest condolences to the nine lives we lost on Jan. 26, 2020. My prayers and thoughts go out to the friends and family of Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, and Ara Zobayan.
Remind the people you love how much they mean to you, and as Kobe himself said when he retired from the game in 2016, “I’m ready to let you go. I want you to know now, so we can both savor every moment we have left together. The good and the bad. We have given each other all we have.”
Above photo: The author’s Kobe Bryant’s sneakers.