Kobe Bryant Memoriam
By Mikey Rottier
Hard to swallow...is the only way to describe the tragic helicopter crash that killed nine, including Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. On Sunday, January 26th the world was shaken as the news about Bryant spread throughout the world. Bryant has motivated so many people through his sky-scraping dunks, clutch three-pointers and lockdown defense on the court. Kobe had one of the most memorable careers of any player in NBA history and is almost always considered a top ten player. His legacy is not only defined as a basketball legend but also as an Oscar winner for his animated short film “Dear Basketball”. Despite allegations of sexual assault which were later dropped and concluded with no professional penalty or divorce, Kobe was also seen as a loving husband and father.
As one of the greatest players to ever step onto the NBA stage, Kobe shaped the game from the time he was drafted as a 17 year old 1996. Kobe witnessed substantial player turnover, change in play style, and rules that completely morphed the league as we know it today. Bryant was consistently one step ahead of the league and his opponents. He finished his career as the third-highest scorer in the history of the NBA, but was passed by LeBron James the day before his fatal helicopter crash. As James chased Bryant’s career point total in Kobe’s hometown of Philadelphia he played the game as a tribute to the Lakers star with the words “Mamba 4 life” scrawled across the shoes he wore. Kobe humbly responded to Lebron’s move on the all-time scoring list. “Continue moving the game forward @kingjames. Much respect my brother.” Kobe tweeted out after Lebron passed him on the list just twelve hours before his tragic death.
Kobe’s fame and fortune did not stop at basketball though. In 2018 he won an Oscar for his animated short film “Dear Basketball” based on a letter he sent to the NBA Players Tribune following his retirement after the 2015-2016 season. This proves how Kobe was driven by his heart and passion for the game in everything that he did. The academy paid a tribute to Kobe after his death with an Instagram post captioned, “They doubted a kid could make it in the NBA and he proved them wrong. They doubted he could win a championship and he proved them wrong. They doubted he could make movies and he won an Oscar. Like all great artists, Kobe Bryant proved the doubters wrong. Rest in peace.”
After his basketball career, Kobe took some time away from the game to focus on his four daughters and wife Vanessa. Kobe was a very adoring father, husband and had a very strong connection with his second-oldest Gianna who he said brought him back into the game of basketball. The first Laker game that Kobe attended after his jersey retirement was with Gianna (or Gigi as he called her,) Gianna also took on the nickname of “Mambacita” as a spin-off of Bryant’s famous nickname “The Black Mamba”. Kobe coached Gianna’s AAU team at his recreation facility the Mamba Academy. He was determined to pass on the legacy of the Bryant name to her as she was destined to play at Women's college basketball powerhouse, UCONN and someday the WNBA.
As the world mourns the loss of Kobe, Gianna, and all the victims of the helicopter crash we remember a legend and celebrate the accomplishments and influence Bryant has had on the game of basketball. Outside of basketball, we must appreciate the passion that Kobe lived his life with at all times. Most importantly he is remembered as a passionate father and husband. The Lakers star may be gone from this earth but he will have a lasting impact and he will not be forgotten. Legends never die.