Five NBA Championships, 17 All-Star appearances, 2-time NBA Finals MVP, 1 Oscar, and countless other awards. Kobe Bryant’s legacy stretches far beyond those numbers and far beyond the sphere of the sports world.
On January 26, 2020, tragedy struck when Bryant’s helicopter went down in Calabasas, California. Bryant has been confirmed dead, and at least 3 others were also killed, including his daughter, Gianna. Bryant was 41.
Avid basketball fan or not, you know the name, Kobe Bryant, which has become synonymous with an elite work ethic, a determination to be the best. His ice-cold stare that greeted anyone opposing him on the hardwood let them know that they were in for a long night.
One recipient of Kobe’s stare was 13-year NBA player Jalen Rose, a member of the Fab Five and now an ESPN analyst-but best known as the man who guarded Kobe on his 81-point night. It was January 22, 2006, and the Lakers were down big to the Toronto Raptors. Kobe could have taken the loss, as he had a suspect roster at the time. Instead, Kobe enacted his most famous mantra: Mamba Mentality.
He exploded in the second half, carrying the Lakers to a 122-104 comeback win. After the game, he delivered a quote that defined the man and player he was: “Playing the game as a kid, you have a dream and even if the dreams are extremely wild and imaginative, you work hard. You believe certain nights like that can happen.” No one had more faith in themselves than Kobe Bryant, because no one worked harder.
Kobe was unique in many ways. He pushed toward excellence in everything he did and was infamous for his hard work. During the summer of 2012, Kobe played for the U.S. National team. He called a trainer at 4:15 in the morning wanting to get a workout in and was already drenched in sweat when the trainer arrived.
They worked out for 45 minutes, after which the trainer left to get breakfast before the 11:00 scrimmage. The trainer showed back up at the facility 20 minutes before the scrimmage and saw Kobe shooting by himself on the far court and asked him what time he left earlier that morning. He never did.
Now, on this sad day, Kobe Bryant has left. But like other legends, he will never truly be gone. Bryant will remain an inspiration to people worldwide because of his love for the game of basketball, as well as his unparalleled dedication towards excellence.
Thank you, Kobe, for teaching the world the meaning of “Mamba Mentality.”