In remembrance of Kobe Bryant

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Graphic by Jared Shapiro

Selby Schnobrich, Contributing Writer

On Jan. 26, 2020, the world began to grapple with an inconceivable tragedy. Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, the Black Mamba himself, was killed at the age of 41 in a helicopter accident along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others. As news outlets scrambled to piece together the details, an outpouring of shock and disbelief shook social media. It just could not be true. It still can’t be. The NFL Pro-Bowl, the 62nd Grammy Awards, and multiple NBA games that day paid tribute to Kobe in the immediate wake of the news. Prominent buildings and landmarks lit up in Lakers’ purple and gold to honor the star. Los Angeles lost a significant piece of its identity, and basketball lost an icon. Whether you were a basketball fan or not, the loss feels personal.

Kobe was someone that transcended sports, an influential figure that reached beyond Los Angeles and basketball, and touched the lives of the generations that followed. His athletic career is arguably one of the greatest of all time, but his Mamba Mentality, his trademark push for excellence, did not end with his NBA career in 2016. It pushed him further in every area of life. Kobe’s legacy is impossible to define in any one arena. Whatever he did, he strived to be the best. Journalist Howard Beck weighed in on the Mamba’s legacy: “Kobe cared deeply. About basketball. About legacy. About family. About being the best he could be in whatever he was doing at that moment, whether playing, parenting, or creating.”

Kobe may have retired from the NBA in 2016, but he was far from done. Los Angeles, along with the entire basketball community and beyond, was eager to see what he would accomplish next. His 13-year-old daughter Gianna was set to carry on his legacy as she was advancing in her basketball career, coached by her father at Mamba Sports Academy. In his 2016 ESPYs speech, Kobe said, “I believe that there’s a time for resting at the end, but for me, that time is not now… I’m far from done. My next dream is to be honored one day for inspiring the next generation of athletes to have a dream, sacrifice for it and never, ever rest in the middle.”

Not only was Kobe inspiring his own daughter’s basketball career by passing along his infinite wisdom to her, but he also inspired an era of basketball fans. What he meant to those that knew him, watched him, and heard of him makes this tragedy unthinkable. The loss of nine lives in a terrible accident makes it unspeakable. Kobe’s legacy is impossible to define concisely, but if there were a word to put it even remotely into perspective, it would be: greatness. The way we honor Kobe moving forward is picking up the torch and carrying his Mamba Mentality with us every day. Have a dream. Sacrifice for it. Never, ever rest in the middle.

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