Number 24

I cannot put into words my shock on Sunday morning when I found out Kobe Bryant and his daughter had passed away in a helicopter crash. At first, I thought it was a joke because the first reports came from TMZ. But then, it was SportsCenter and then ESPN, and then athletes started to confirm it. I couldn’t process it. I still can’t believe it.

Whether you were an NBA fan or not, you know who Kobe Bryant is. 20 seasons with the Lakers. 18 All-Star NBA selections. 5 time NBA champion. 2 Olympic gold medals. MVP. Slam dunk champion. Youngest player to start in the NBA. His accomplishments on the court are countless. He’s an icon. A legend. But, his greatness didn’t end there. In 2013, as he realized he was entering his final years in the NBA, he co-founded venture capital firm Bryant Stibel along with Web.com founder Jeff Stibel, and after he retired from the NBA in 2016, Bryant founded Granity Studios, a media company that focuses on creative storytelling around sports. In 2018, he won an Oscar for the short film Dear Basketball. He was a great basketball player and on top of that a great businessman and investor. Dear Kobe, Thank You just shows how many people he impacted throughout his life.  

He showed incredible skills on and off the field. He was also an amazing father and husband to his four daughters. When I found out his daughter Gianna was with him in the crash, my heart broke. She had the brightest future ahead of her; she was only 13. She had her dad’s passion for basketball and she was 100% going to make it to the WNBA. She was going to be as great, or even better, than her dad, and she was going to break so many records. She was supposed to carry his legacy. Unfortunately, we will never see how good she could truly be.

I feel so selfish and dumb mourning his death because I never personally met him. I was just one of the many that looked up to him as a hero. His work ethic, his competitiveness, his passion for the sport, and his intelligence will remain unmatched. Tearing his Achilles yet having the strength to shoot the free throws? Never will you see something like that. I remember watching his final game in 2016 and being sad because I would never be able to see his excellence and skills in the court again, but being happy because he was already moving in with his second chapter in life. The Mamba Mentality is something I aspired to have one day. He impacted so many people. My heart goes out to his wife, his daughters, his teammates, his coaches, and anyone that was lucky enough to know him, and my heart also goes out to the families of those not mentioned in the media, because if I feel like this, I can’t even begin to imagine what they must be going through. His legacy will remain forever. Number 24 will never be the same. Rest in peace, legend. You were the first athlete I ever worshiped and looked up to as a hero. Thank you for everything. Mamba Out.