“Have a good time. Life is too short to get bogged down and be discouraged. You have to keep moving. You have to keep going. Put one foot in front of the other, smile and just keep on rolling” — Kobe Bryant
Sports, movies and concerts are all positive distractions from our everyday lives and the unavoidable outcome that is ultimately death. Basketball is one of those positive distractions we are privileged to enjoy or partake in. And for the majority of one man’s life, he was better than almost anyone to ever do it. He crafted masterpieces.
That basketball legend (in every sense of the word) was Kobe Bryant. He had a promising 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who looked to fill in his shoes with an aura of greatness of her own. They and nine other people aboard a helicopter, were enroute to a basketball game when it horrifically crashed in Calabasas, California, and left no survivors. A tragedy that when it came to light, undoubtedly made the world stand still.
Kobe was, forgive the cliche, larger than life. He appeared invincible, further cementing that at times, Father Time takes no prisoners. However, for Kobe and especially Gianna, there was so much more they could have lived.
News of their deaths echoed throughout the day. In the basketball world, NBA games continued as normal, though emotions and tributes were in full display as you witnessed firsthand how much of a reach his impact had on his associates, not to mention the entire globe and its athletes.
Mamba Mentality, a trademark of Bryant’s, signified the embodiment of sheer focus and hard work. He inspired many NBA players and was an idol to the new generation. Watching videos of players from basketball and other sports, they all cited him as the reason they picked up a ball and played, or pushed further in their own endeavors. They wanted to emulate his Mamba Mentality in any way they could.
This does not dismiss that he, along with most humans, was a flawed individual, as anyone would be with credible allegations of rape involved. It doesn’t progress our understanding of each other as humans when we softly-pedal past those we care enough about. It is part of his story nonetheless, and what happened in Colorado 2003 will be a pivotal point of his life that did not stop changing him to the man he was before his passing.
However, Bryant was genuinely trying to be the best version of himself and spread goodwill.He was a devoted family man. He treated his wife like a queen and was proud to be a “Girl Dad” with four daughters. He made a conscious effort, with no invitation, to amplify women’s basketball as much as possible. We’re always constantly progressing and improving, but what happens with death, as such is the tragedy, puts those progressions to a halt.
Survivors of sexual abuse are put in vulnerable positions by seeing culprits of sexual abuse glorified without a sense of being made accountable for the pain they had caused. However, Bryant’s passing should not be met with moralizing labels. His sexual assault accuasations shouldn’t diminish the magnitude of this tragedy. You can acknowledge what one may have done and still grieve for him, his peers, and his family.
It’s complex to try and grasp the entirety of Bryant’s legacy both on and off the court. But you can count one thing being simple: the amount of people he inspired to do greatness and ultimately push for a better world.
He will be remembered for his merciless competitive nature and vigorous work ethic. He shot free throws on a torn Achilles right after it was determined that he was injured. A ball was thrust in his face and he was completely unbothered. The second-highest points scored in a single game. A gold-medalist. His 60-point finale against our beloved Utah Jazz. Season MVP, two Finals MVPs, and five NBA championships. These defined Kobe’s career, and for most of his life, he was okay with that.
In retirement, his work ethic did not quit. Being considered a legend already eclipsing his final season, he wrote a poem to the game that he so coveted. It eventually become an Oscar-winning animated short film, nothing short of surprising considering the greatness that he projects. He created a show that gained a life of its own with “Detail” and continued to meticulously be a mentor to many NBA players todays and even their aspiring children.
“On top of his family and friends and legions of fans, he is survived by a league whose popularity he helped build, full of players he inspired.”- The Score
As a Jazz fan, I hated Kobe Brant, but as his days became numbered in the basketball world, I became absolutely fascinated. Revered by his hard work and determination I enjoyed all the glamorous finesse that he brought to the game. He had an abundant amount of self-confidence and belief in himself, unmatched by many. He was silky-smooth in all his shots even though there was calculating brilliance behind the method of which he approached the basket.
It many ways, he was the essence of what we all wanted to process the game but he brought something truly to be in awe about. Everyone has their own personal feelings of why they are attached to him. For me, it’s as simple as looking as his art and just watching him be Kobe.