Kobe Bryant Tribute

Koen Samuel, Assistant Editor

The world of sports was dealt an unexpected and devastating blow when a helicopter carrying Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others crashed into a mountainside in Calabasas, California, early on the morning of January 26. The nine individuals were flying to Bryant’s Mamba Basketball Academy, where Bryant was set to coach his daughter, Sarah Chester, and Alyssa Altobelli, three members of the Los Angeles Lady Mambas. John and Keri Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Payton Chester, and pilot Ara Zobayan are those who parished alongside Bryant and the players. Bryant was known for taking his helicopter to avoid the notorious Los Angeles traffic, but on that occasion there was heavy fog which is believed to have played a role in the crash. 

After the news broke out, thousands of fans in Los Angeles, the United States, and the world began to mourn the tragic news of the beloved icon. The league was shaken to its core as ex-teammates and coaches, rivals, and fans posted touching tributes on social media and honoured Bryant and those who died during games. Lakers fans created an instant memorial for Bryant outside the team’s home arena, Staples Center, “the house that Kobe built,” as many fans call it. Jerseys, letters, basketballs, shoes, and teddy bears are just some of the items left by fans, grief stricken by the death of one of the city’s heroes. 

There is no trouble in seeing why millions of people were sorrowful after the tragic event. Bryant played his entire 20 year career with the Lakers, and along the way gave those watching nothing less than greatness to talk about. Many know the accomplishments: a five-time NBA Champion, two-time finals MVP, a regular-season MVP, an 18-time All-Star, and a two-time Olympic gold medalist. The list goes on and on. 

There is no doubt Bryant will be remembered for his ability on the basketball court: the turnaround jumpers, highlight reel dunks, and defensive prowess. But what set Bryant apart, the intangible that can’t be measured, was his heart, tenacity, dedication, and persistence. Bryant was no doubt in a relentless pursuit of greatness for two decades. These were the origins of his “Mamba Mentality,” something he didn’t just apply to his basketball career, but the next phase of his life. 

Bryant had an affinity for creation. He won an Oscar just two years after his retirement in 2018 for his short animated film, Dear Basketball. Bryant was also a partner with Granity Studios and helped to create content such as books, podcasts, and more, with the intent to use creative education as a means of helping the next generation reach their full potential. 

But perhaps the most touching part of Bryant’s life was the joy that he got from being a husband and a father, especially over the last few years. He coached Gianna’s basketball team and was often seen courtside with her at Lakers games, giving her insight and wisdom on the game of basketball. He leaves behind his wife Vanessa and his other three daughters: Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. 

Kobe Bryant’s death reminds us of the fragility of life, the value of each day, and the legacy we can leave behind. Bryant inspired an entire generation of basketball players and didn’t stop there. Even in his post basketball career he maintained his goal of ensuring that he could inspire people to be great at anything they do. From the Hall of Fame induction speech we’ll never get to hear, his daughter’s basketball games he’ll no longer be able to coach, the husband and father he’ll no longer get to be, Kobe Bryant leaves this world with so much he still had and wanted to do. However, while he was here, he gave us everything he had, and left no stone unturned for his fans and family.