Written by Alexis Barton
On Sunday, January 26th, the sports world lost one of the greatest players, advocates, and role models of all time: Kobe Bryant. In a tragic helicopter accident that killed eight other individuals, including Bryant’s thirteen-year-old daughter Gianna, Bryant passed in the height of his retired life. According to former Team USA teammate and basketball legend, Lebron James, Kobe was the “happiest I (James) had seen him in years.” Bryant’s shocking and untimely death has created a time for a mass grieving for not only basketball fans but sports fans and athletes across the world. As we remember his work on the court, we also take time to look at Kobe’s legacy off the court.
Kobe loved the game, it’s as simple as that. His passion was evident in practices, in games at the Staples Center, and in international competition. An 18-time All-Star, it was clear that his talent was driven by both passion and raw skill. Additionally, Kobe made the All-NBA team 15 times, won league MVP and finals MVP, and was a two-time gold medalist with Team USA. His passion for the game continued after his retirement in 2016 as he was able to invest more time into teaching his daughter, Gianna, about the game that he loved. Regimented training, daily practices, and unique drills allowed Kobe to teach Gianna about the game all while building a close relationship with his daughter. Being a dad while also being a professional athlete isn’t easy, but Kobe made it work. His relationships with all of his children only grew in his three years of retirement.
Beyond his remarkable NBA career, Kobe will be remembered as a role model. He continually showed young athletes what it means to have the “Mamba Mentality”, which involved a strong work ethic, a no-quit attitude, and respect for the game. Kobe’s mark on the game of basketball and the sports world will never be forgotten.