18x All Star. 5x NBA Champion. Father. Mentor. Idol…. All of these are only a handful of ways to describe the NBA legend, Kobe Bean Bryant. We just weren’t ready to hear that he would be tragically lost in a helicopter accident alongside his daughter, Gianna Bryant and 7 others. For some of us it even goes as far back as being that kid in their room with the mini over-the-door basketball hoop, you’d shoot the ball from across the room and yell “Kobe!”. Even if you were never a fan of the NBA, you must have heard the legendary name.
The heartbreaking news broke the internet and put many of us in a time of grief, so why not shed some light onto the headlines to honor him- specially for the ones that did not know the Black Mamba very well.
On August 23, 1978 in Philadelphia, PA Kobe Bryant was born. When Kobe turned about 6 years old, his recently retired NBA player father (Joe Bryant) moved their family to Italy where Bryant played both basketball and soccer. Although his true passion for basketball came from watching his father play and learning the game through the recorded tapes of games sent from his grandparents back in the states.
The Bryant family moved back to the US for good in 1992 where Kobe attended Lower Merion High School and played for their varsity team, the Aces, averaging 31. Pts, 10.4 rebounds and 5.2 assists in his Junior year alone. Before his senior year could even begin Kobe was getting college scholarship offers from major schools such as Duke, Villanova and North Carolina. However, after seeing a young man from Chicago by the name of Kevin Garnett go 1st round pick in the 1995 NBA Draft Kobe wanted to reach that same height and was grabbed at #13 by the Charlotte Hornets the following year. Very soon after the draft a call was made in by Los Angeles to pick up the young talent. Appearing in the league as the youngest starting player at the age of 18, Kobe was elated to end up playing for his favorite team and from that point on it was a legendary come up.
In 1998, there was an NBA Lockout in which shortened the season to only 50 games. Bryant decided to use some of that time off to start making a hip-hop cd. It was never released but in the same building his studio was in, he met a dancer named Vanessa Laine who was being filmed in a music video. Vanessa and Kobe would end up marrying years later in 2001.
By the age of 22 Kobe had his second NBA championship and became the team’s key player. Averaging 40 minutes, 28.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 68 games in the 2000-01 season. He would not stop there. He would increase his training regimens to acts like taking 1000 jumpers a day and so it was inevitable Bryant would become complacent with his skill.
Even when Kobe seemed to get injured whether it be from hand injury to ankle injury, he always seemed to top his game and continue to fight until the battle was over. He also had the help of Lamar Odom by his side in which some referred to as the Jordan-Pippen Duo because Odom contributed very much to Kobe’s MVP performance with assists, blocks, etc. Then eventually comes Pau Gasol as the icing on the cake in creating a long time dynasty for the world to acknowledge.
In 2008, Team USA went to China for the Summer games Olympics and scored Gold medal thanks to Kobe scoring 13 points in the final quarter. He earned the nickname “Flying Little Warrior” by his fans in China. Kobe would earn his stripes in 2009 leading his team in scores and assists as well as earning his 4th championship as Series MVP. Kobe’s final championship ring was earned the following year against the Celtics with another MVP award. After this feat, the Lakers Association paid for a visit to the white house for Kobe to meet President Obama.
Kobe Bryant continued to play all the way to 2016, his last game was against longtime rivals the Utah Jazz scoring 60 points to end his 20-year career. To finish off his career he gave a remarkable speech:
The Black Mamba’s career may have ended on the court, but Kobe achieved much more after his retirement. He strived to continue growth within himself and others and so he started a $100 million dollar venture-capital fund which invested in the advancement of data, technology, and media companies. Inspired by his daughter and prodigy Gianna he also supported the women’s college basketball and WNBA leagues by starting the Mamba Sports Academy.
Although Kobe Bryant was an NBA superstar, he never failed to make himself relatable to people. His love and honesty showed with his very short but sweet encounters with fans where he would take a minute to really talk to them. Kobe’s life will live on past this and into generations to come. Mamba mentality for life, may he and his beloved daughter rest in power.