On January 26, 2020, basketball fans around the world were stunned when they learned that Kobe Bryant, one of the most celebrated and successful basketball players of all time, died in a tragic helicopter accident along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and 7 others. As the news spread and stories disseminated, however, it soon became clear that Kobe Bryant’s tragic death was not only meaningful to basketball fans. Instead, his untimely passing has put the spotlight on his post-career dedication to his family, giving everyone who knows his name newfound respect for who he was both on and off the court. And we here at Rampage would like to commemorate the legacy of the Oscar winning NBA Superstar and family man, Kobe Bean Bryant.
The “Black Mamba” first began his basketball journey after being drafted 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets. He was then immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers where he cemented his loyalty to the franchise for the next 20 years. Throughout this time, he put up outstanding stats and inscribed himself in the record books with the other all-time greats. Over his career, he recorded 1 MVP, 18 All-Star selections, 4 All-Star MVPs, 5 NBA championships, an 81-point game (2nd highest in NBA history), 33,643 points (4th most in NBA history), etc. Not only does he boast impressive stats, but to finish off his career, Kobe gave fans all around the world a taste of prime-time Mamba. As fans chanted “MVP” and “Kobe,” and as his family watched in pure amazement, he scored a
total of 60 points. This was the most points scored out of any player that season.
Surprisingly, what many forget about Kobe is his legacy post-NBA stardom. Even after his career was finished and his body was worn down from the seemingly everlasting grind, his love for the game was still intact. And as a way of saying farewell to it, he wrote and narrated the oscar-winning short animated film, Dear Basketball. However, what shined greater than any of his accolades or awards was the love he showed to his family and the support he showed to his basketball-loving daughter and “Mambacita,” Gianna Bryant. New York Yankees legend, Derek Jeter, commented on Kobe’s love for his family, “I end up thinking about how, here was this guy who was beyond gifted as an athlete, who was obsessed with being a champion, who was known as an absolute assassin with a ball in his hands. And in the moments I got to spend with him? He didn’t really talk about any of that. He cared much more about being a husband to Vanessa and a dad to his girls. He loved his family — he was his family. That’s what was important” (Players’ Tribune).
Not long separated from Kobe, everyone seems to be mourning for the man who touched us all one way or another. Personally, I will forever cherish yelling “Kobe!” whenever I shoot a crumpled paper ball into a trashcan. NBA teams are also showing gratitude as they are purposely committing 8-second and 24-second violations during games to represent his two jersey numbers. Fans and players are also building tributes outside of the Staples Center while petitioning for the numbers 8 and 24 to be retired for every team and to have the NBA logo switched to the Mamba himself.
But as fans and players alike grieve and remember Kobe’s greatness, it’s important to keep in mind that, as Kobe once said, “Heroes come and go, but legends are forever.”
Everyone asked for his hustle, but he ended up giving us his heart (Dear Basketball).
Kobe Bryant (Right) and Gianna Bryant (Left) spending time together during a Lakers game
Photo credit: Fox 11 Los Angeles