On Jan. 26, famed NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant died alongside his daughter Gianna Bryant in a helicopter crash. Social media flooded with numerous posts, acknowledgments and statements about how that day will be remembered.
It was evident from a young age that Kobe had greatness in his veins. Growing up under the limelight of Philadelphia 76ers legend Joe Bryant, Kobe was around basketball his entire life. Coming out of Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia, Kobe was already recognized by the NBA as a superstar. His talent was only spiked by his drive, work ethic and a love for the game. Even members of the 2006 Toronto Raptors were honored that Kobe could drop 81 points on them. Moments like that, along with his numerous clutch shots, represent the Mamba mentality.
Kobe was more than just an NBA player. He was an icon, a leader, a champion, a millionaire — but most importantly, Kobe was a father. His resume is filled with accomplishments which included five NBA Championships, two-time NBA Finals MVP, 18-time All-Star, four NBA All-Star MVPs, 11 NBA first team honors and two-time Olympic Team gold medalist.
Throughout his career, Kobe wore the numbers 8 and 24; arguably his best years were in 24. Multiple teams allowed a 24-second shot clock violation to acknowledge his death in the games that followed the plane crash.
Kobe left a legacy for the Lakers franchise, as one of the few NBA players who spent their entire career on the same team. His impact on the league was evident through the many posts that not only his teammates, but his competitors made for him.
Kobe was a hard worker and had the mind of a competitor, both of which made him a remarkable player. His resilience and work ethic are both represented in one of his famous quotes on hard work: “I can’t relate to lazy people. We don’t speak the same language. I don’t understand you. I don’t want to understand you.”
What many people do not talk about, however, is Kobe’s role as a father. He loved all of his daughters. In addition to Gianna, Kobe had three other daughters: Capri, Natalia and Bianka. Kobe was always at his daughters’ basketball games. Many thought he needed a male baby to continue the tradition of getting buckets, but Gianna was well on her way to filling that role herself.
This helicopter crash is even more tragic because the world lost two fantastic basketball players that day — Kobe and Gianna. We know that while the plane was going down Kobe did everything to make his daughter feel protected and comfortable in their last moments. Kobe’s role as a father exemplified the idea of a black male role model that other men with children should aspire to.
When shooting a piece of crumpled up paper in the trash, people always shout “Kobe” as they aim and release. I’m sure this trend will not go away, but will present a feeling of nostalgia from now on.
People have paid tribute to Kobe in numerous ways. Aside from the 24-second shot clock violations at the start of other NBA games, fans have made signs and left flowers and cards at the sight of the crash. The entire Detroit Pistons team wore the numbers 8 and 24 in their pre-game introductions to honor the superstar. Players like Trae Young and Joel Embiid both changed their numbers to pay honor to him and his daughter. There are even people getting petitions signed to try to make the NBA logo include Kobe Bryant.
People did not have to be a basketball fan to be familiar with the name “Kobe Bryant.” The deaths of Kobe and Gianna are felt across the nation. His legacy is felt all over the country, in the NBA and the lives of his fans. My prayers go out to his other daughters, wife and family.
We lost a valuable member of our society, but we will remember him as if he never left. He will live on in the lives of competitors, family, fans and the entire NBA organization forever. Many people shed tears on the day of that fatal crash, but his death will not be taken for granted. It has inspired many, including Kobe’s fellow teammate Lebron James, who stated in an Instagram post honoring Kobe: “I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation and it’s my responsibility to put this shit on my back and keep it going!!”