The lightning-like speed, the killer instinct. One small misstep and you’ll live to regret it.
In many ways, Kobe Bryant, better known as the “Black Mamba,” can be compared to his animal counterpart. The fear he invoked in his opponents rivaled only the respect he garnered. Now, that fear and respect are only memories we can look back on.
The world stood still Sunday afternoon as news spread of the tragic death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant. Disbelief was the only feeling outweighing the one of grief. Bryant was only 41 and his daughter 13-year-old Gianna perished in a helicopter crash together. The young girl was a budding basketball star herself with dreams of playing for the University of Connecticut’s Husky basketball team and later the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) in the future.
Bryant leaves behind a basketball resume that only a few can rival. Over a career spanning two decades, Bryant went toe-to-toe with the best and proved to every single one of them that he could outwork them. Five NBA Championships and two Olympic Gold Medals only further cement what we all saw on the court: complete and utter dominance.
In high school, Bryant would practice in a dark gym, hours before the rest of his team arrived and the lights were turned on. After he was drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA), his work ethic only became more eccentric. Bryant was said to have taken 800 shots before practice and then another 800 after completing hours of intense exercise. When his teammates were entering the Los Angeles Lakers facilities, Bryant had already worked up a sweat from three hours of work. His competitive drive pushed him to places few will go. He didn’t want to be great, he wanted to be the best.
While Bryant’s days on the hardwood were already in the past, his life off the court was just getting started.
In 2018, Bryant won an Oscar for his short film “Dear Basketball,” which is even more chilling watching now. He had planned on writing a book as well, but what was most important to him was his family.
Bryant’s memory and the dreams of his late daughter is survived by his wife Vanessa and his three daughters, the youngest of which was born just this past June. After a grueling 20 years in the NBA, Bryant was ecstatic to spend his free time with them, specifically when he was coaching Gianna’s basketball team. The last known photos of Kobe and Gianna are from just a day before their tragic crash, where the two are seen smiling as Gianna takes the court for the team Kobe was coaching.
The basketball world is mourning the loss of a legendary player, but Bryant transcended basketball. His work ethic, competitive drive and compassion has and will continue to inspire anyone, in any field of work. Kobe was the NBA, he was Los Angeles, but beyond that he was a father, a husband, a brother and a son.
“Heroes come and go. But legends are forever.”