Writer, Stefano Schiavone
The world continues to mourn the loss of nine people in a tragic helicopter crash on January 26th, including Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. The loss of the two Bryants has undisputedly changed the sports community, and there have been countless incredible tributes to the lives cut short.
Kobe Bryant will be remembered by many for his transcendent basketball ability; whether it be his 5 Championships, 18 All-Star Selections, or 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors, Bryant demonstrated time and time again why he was one of the greatest NBA players of all time. And while for 20 years Kobe’s athletic prowess was on full display, it was his life outside of basketball that was so complex.
Kobe Bryant wasn’t a perfect man, far from it. Whether it was his 2003 Colorado court case, or his controversial remarks in 2011, Bryant’s life had significant moments that need to be addressed and remembered. But in his relentless, ‘Mamba Mentality’ pursuit of excellence, Kobe became an individual focused on becoming the best person he could be.
Kobe was a creator. Shortly after his retirement, he won an Oscar for his love letter Dear Basketball that provided a glimpse into his future artistic ambitions. He had begun working on a children’s book and even started a podcast directed towards children. He had dreams of transforming sports media and became involved in businesses as an entrepreneur, including his Mamba Sports Academy. And Kobe was involved in social activism, meeting with Black Lives Matter and women’s rights activists, and vocally supporting the WNBA, the league his daughter Gianna had dreams of playing in.
Kobe was a mentor. He offered personal training opportunities to NBA players in the offseason and inspired many, including former Toronto Raptors star Demar DeRozan, who idolized Bryant. He was a figure in and donor for Boys and Girls Clubs across America, the same organization he was attended as a youth in Philadelphia, and set up a sports league for young kids in conjunction with Nike and the L.A. Boys and Girls Club. And Kobe created Mamba Academy to give people of all ages a place to grow not just as athletes, but as individuals as well, through training and education specifically curated by Bryant.
And most importantly, Kobe was a father. He proudly exclaimed his love for his four daughters whenever he could, whether it be with reporters and friends, on shows like Jimmy Kimmel Live, or on his social media accounts. He, despite all of his ambitious activities, maintained his post-retirement focus on his family after 20 years in the NBA. And Kobe was a proud supporter of his daughters and their goals, working to help reach the heights they dreamed of, including coaching Gianna’s basketball team at his Mamba Academy Tournament.
Kobe’s accomplishments as a basketball legend will never be forgotten. But what makes his death all the more tragic was that Kobe was all at once a creator, a mentor, and a father on January 26th.
His death hurts so much because we saw a man discontent with succeeding in one part of life but instead focusing on as many aspects as possible. It hurts because Kobe was on the verge of having a second act exceed an already amazing first. It hurts because that unique personality he had was ripped away from this world.
But even in death, Kobe Bryant is still an influence. He taught us in life to always try to better, and now it is up to each and every one of us to carry on his legacy.
To always improve no matter what.
To always strive to be a good human being.
To always have a ‘Mamba Mentality’.
Kobe may be gone, but what he stood for, and who he was as an individual, will live on forever.