On January 26, 2020, the world learned of a helicopter crash in California that claimed the lives of nine people. Among the passengers were former basketball superstar Kobe Bryant and his thirteen year old daughter Gianna, according to NBC News.
During his playing days, Kobe Bryant was the mainstay of the National Basketball Association. He was revered by fans, teammates, coaches, and players on other teams. Even people who didn’t follow sports knew who he was. His influence over basketball was massive. Countless players from both the current and future group of NBA stars looked to Bryant for inspiration; Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Devin Booker, and Russel Westbrook, to name a few. He was an intense competitor with a winning mindset that influenced so many developing players across all levels of the sport, not just the professional level. Basketball would not be the same without him, and the legacy he left behind will be everlasting.
During his illustrious 20 year career, Bryant won a league MVP, made 18 all star games, won 5 NBA championships, and two finals MVPs, according to Basketball Reference. While everyone knows him as a scoring savant, ranking fourth in all time points scored, he was also an immaculate defender and made 12 all defensive teams, according to NBA.com. Bryant was originally drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996, and then traded to the Lakers where he spent his entire career. In the early 2000’s he was part of the last NBA team to win three straight championships. He then won two more championships in 2009 and 2010, according to Basketball Reference. He went out with a bang at the Staples Center in the final game of his career, scoring 60 points against the Utah Jazz in 2016.
You didn’t have to be a sports fanatic to enjoy what Bryant contributed to the world. After Bryant’s retirement from basketball in 2016, he was highly active in the public. He wrote a very well received book titled “Mamba Mentality,” and won an Academy Award for an animated short film called “Dear Basketball.” He also coached his daughters basketball team. At 41 years old, he was only truly getting started in life. He had aspirations that were beyond sports. If the success and longevity of his playing career was any indication of what he was capable of post basketball, he was well on his way to conquering the entertainment industry also.
After Bryant’s passing, there was a public outpouring by fans, media members, other NBA players, and public figures across various social media platforms. Touching tributes and condolences for Bryant and his daughter were being delivered online for days. In the week that followed the tragic incident, there were tributes to him at The Grammys, Super Bowl LIV, and sporting events around the world. As one of the greatest players ever, his legacy will live on forever.
At only 41 years old, Kobe Bryant left an indelible mark on the world, and brought joy to many people through basketball, as well as his various post playing career expenditures. Rest In Peace.