NBA legend Kobe Bean Bryant, aka the “Black Mamba,” passed away Sunday, January 26th, 2020, when his private helicopter crashed in Calabasas, CA. Unfortunately, his 13-year old daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, passed away as well. According to NBC News, a total of nine victims died in the crash including John Altobelli, the head baseball coach at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, California; his wife, Keri; their daughter Alyssa; Payton Chester, a 13-year-old basketball player; and her mother Sarah. As I write this article, I sincerely can’t believe that the words I just typed are true. Tears rush down my cheeks imagining that Bryant’s last act as a man on Earth was most certainly trying to protect his daughter as best as he could. Every time I would think of Bryant, I would envision a man who had the ultimate willpower. Someone who was actually unstoppable and unbreakable. My mind can’t comprehend the news of his death. It just doesn’t seem real.
Bryant, 41, wasn’t just a basketball star. He was a great man, a huge family man, a star on and off the court. Considered to be one of the biggest stars in modern United States history, the Philly native spent all 20 years of his long NBA career playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, the team he rooted for since his youth. But his impact playing for the Lakers reached beyond just being one of many superstars in the team’s history. He was a strong advocate and supporter of the WNBA, and he would also donate his own time and money to several charities and other organizations for the betterment of the community. Bryant was a man who was respected, idolized, and beloved even by those who disliked him while he was on the court.
Not only has he done so much for his community, but he also left one of the strongest legacies behind. Bryant inspired many people to follow their dreams and introduced so many to the sport of basketball. Being the epitome of a hard-worker, millions of people all around the globe would be inspired to not only take up the sport but to try to craft their own game around him. Every hooper in the 2000s would try to be like Bryant, shooting turn-around fadeaways while saying “Kobe”. Even now, any player is likely to yell “Kobe!” while taking a jumper.
The resumé Bryant finished his career with is among the most impressive in any sport ever, and is widely considered to be at least a top 10 player in basketball history. Bryant’s accomplishments include being a 5x NBA champ, 2x Finals MVP, 18x All-Star, 15x All-NBA team member, 12x All-Defense team member, having an 81-point performance, a 63-point performance in only 3 quarters, and being the 2008 NBA MVP. Of course, there is more but the point has been made.
You will be missed Kobe. Thank you for all you’ve done for people everywhere. Thank you for being one of the biggest reasons I am where I am today. Thank you, Kobe, for being the most impressive basketball player I’ve ever seen play with my own eyes. Prayers from me and the True Star family go out to you and your family, along with every single person who was impacted by you. You may be gone, but your legacy will live on forever.
By Hugo Vazquez, Senior, Brooks College Prep