A Reflection on the Life of Kobe Bryant
One name is all that is needed - Jordan, Magic, Kareem, LeBron. All have reached the single name status, but there may not be a figure that transcends this threshold more so than Kobe.
The sports world was stunned to a halt on Sunday when Kobe Bryant was reported dead at 41 after a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Bryant, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were two of nine that deceased in the crash.
It was 1996 when the 18-year-old high school graduate stepped onto the hardwood for the first time as a Los Angeles Laker. Fast forward 20 years and Bryant’s career stands up with NBA greats. He was a five-time NBA champion, 18-time all-star, two-time Olympic gold medal winner and the 2008 MVP. He made 15 All-NBA teams, 12 All-Defensive teams and currently sits in fourth place for all-time scoring after being passed by LeBron James on Saturday. His 81-point game against the Raptors in 2006 is the second-highest single game individual scoring total in NBA history.
In the Lakers record books, Bryant leads the franchise in points, three-pointers, games played, steals and free throws. He is second in assists, third in rebounds and fifth in blocks. The Lakers retired both of Bryant’s jersey numbers: 8 and 24.
One can spend hours fingering through all of these numbers and achievements, but they will not truly develop an understanding for Bryant’s greatness without looking at him as a person.
It is tough to put the impact that Bryant left on the NBA into words. His career uniquely bridged the gap between two generations of players, playing alongside of both Jordan and James. Many of today’s stars grew up molding their craft off of Bryant, also popularly known as the “Black Mamba.” He was relentlessly committed to winning, but his overall goal was to propel the game forward. He inspired so many young players to fall in love with the game.
Bryant’s impact goes far beyond the basketball gym. Few athletes have the international recognition that he had in his career. In fact, he was a global icon. Bryant grew up in Italy and left a large footprint there. Being one of the first players to embrace basketball in China, he was a key part in the global expansion of the NBA.
For Bryant, good was never enough. Being great was the goal. There was always a fire lit within him. He had the desire to be greater than any situation, which was embodied in his 60-point farewell performance on April 13, 2016. This is how Kobe lived his life: it was the mamba mentality.
This mentality followed him into his second act of life. He devoted himself to being a great husband, father and ambassador of the game. He won an Academy Award in 2018 for his animated short film “Dear Basketball,” a love letter to the game that became such a large part of his life. He founded the Mamba Sports Basketball Academy for the training of young players and became a coach of Gianna’s travel team.
Bryant scheduled the last years of his life around his family, specifically his four daughters. He talked about always looking to the future and preparing for life without basketball. His retirement brought him peace and allowed him to be more hands on in their lives. He had so much love for his wife Vanessa and four daughters Natalia (17), Gianna (13), Bianka (3), and Capri (7 months).
There are no words that can sum up the emotions sports fans are feeling. The sports world lost an icon who inspired millions of fans worldwide. This shock will not end today. It will not end tomorrow. Bryant’s impact was massive and broke through sports world barriers into the Los Angeles spotlight. He was loved by so many. Kobe will be missed but will forever be remembered as a true iconic talent and person that was taken way too soon.
One name is all that will ever be needed. Thank you, Kobe.
Preston Shoemaker is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact, email email@example.com.