On Jan. 26, the entire world was struck with shock after the passing of the legendary NBA (National Basketball Association) icon Kobe Bryant, and his daughter Gianna Bryant; both were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. With an Oscar, five NBA championships, two finals MVPs, and 18 NBA All-Star appearances, Bryant’s impact was far from just his talent on the court.
Born on Aug. 23, 1978, in Philadelphia, Kobe Bean Bryant was surrounded by the game of basketball. His father, Joe Bryant, played in the NBA from 1975 to 1983. It was in 1984 that Kobe’s home life would drastically change. His father decided to continue his career in the Italian basketball league, and as a result, the Bryant family was moved to Rieti, Italy. It was not until 1991 that the family returned to Philadelphia and Bryant enrolled in Lower Merion High School.
Bryant continued to play throughout his entire high school career, and in his senior year, he was voted as USA Today and Parade’s National High School Player of the Year. After graduating in 1996, Bryant chose to commit directly to the NBA draft rather than attending college. He was drafted as the 13th pick of the first round by the Charlotte Hornets but was traded soon after to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bryant would play 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, and wear two different numbers: eight and 24. During his explosive career, he went on to score a total of 33,643 points, making him fourth place on the ladder of NBA All-Time points scored, and solidifying his argument for being one of the greatest players in franchise history and the history of the league. After retirement, Bryant helped train many of the league’s stars including Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum, Kyrie Irving, and more. Many players follow his notorious mindset known as ‘Mamba Mentality’, a vigorous training style and mindset to push one for their best results. Apart from being a role model on the court, Bryant had just as much of an impact on others off the court. With four daughters, Bryant was a huge advocate in women’s sports, from his daughter’s basketball games to WNBA games to women’s volleyball. He had treated women and youth sports with great importance, with the intention to positively impact and acknowledge the hardworking players of those sports. From making his own youth basketball league in Mamba Sports Foundation to funding rival schools, Bryant’s contribution to all sports will be greatly missed.
Bryant will forever be the epitome of what it means to be an athlete, community member, husband, and most importantly, a father. His passing will leave a void in the hearts many, however, Bryant’s ‘Mamba Mentality’ still shines, as it’s applicable to everyone, not just athletes. If you would like to donate to Bryant’s cause and carry on his legacy with youth sports, the Mamba Sports Foundation’s donation link is attached.