HomeCurrent IssueRemembering Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020

Remembering Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020

James Willis

Sports Editor

On Jan. 26, a helicopter crash in southern California resulted in the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven other individuals. TMZ was the first news outlet to report on the accident, which led to worldwide shock over the death of a man who’s legacy went beyond his accomplishments on the court. Thousands of people were initially confused, thinking that this was a publicity stunt to gain attraction to the site, along with the dozens of reports that didn’t match with one another. But as this tragedy was confirmed by a medical coroner/examiner of Los Angeles County,  the shock felt worldwide quickly turned to grief. As one of the greatest athletes of all time, he left behind an amazing legacy and had the highest honors in basketball to prove it. 

Kobe Bryant was one of the nation’s best high school basketball players during the mid-nineties. Rather than go to college to continue his education, he chose to enter the NBA draft. He was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets, but was then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.  From there, his career blossomed. To put why he is considered one of the best basketball players ever into perspective, here is a list of his major accomplishments. In 20 years in the NBA, he was a five-time champion, two-time Finals MVP, 18- time All-Star, 15-time All-NBA, 12-time All-Defensive Team, the 2008 NBA and fourth all time on the postseason scoring list. He also received two gold medals for participating in the 2008 and 2012 Olympic games and won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2017. Kobe was known for pushing himself and his teammates to be the best athletes they could be, and would accept nothing but the best. 

He could speak multiple languages and would often talk trash to opponents in their native language if English wasn’t their first language. His iconic fadeaway shot inspired the countless people that would tune in to watch him play. He took on the nickname “Black Mamba” and his game inspired countless others to try to imitate him on the court.

But to many people around the world, Kobe was more than just a basketball player. His drive, work ethic and mentality to attack each and every day to get better made a lasting impact. Alec Stevenson, a senior who hails from the Los Angeles area had this to say about Kobe’s impact on the city: “Kobe brought the city together through the priceless memories he brought to all Laker fans. He was a personal hero to myself and countless others who grew up watching the best basketball player of all time, so when I heard of his passing I was extremely saddened.”

When Kobe retired, it wasn’t a big surprise to most that he chose to keep working rather than live a life of ease with the large amount of money he earned. His iconic “Mamba Mentality” helped him in his efforts to give back to the game. Kobe also worked to raise awareness for women’s sports. He sponsered and coached his daughter’s Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) sponsored basketball team. Kobe was also extremely vocal about loving the fact that he got the opportunity to raise four girls.

There is a reason that millions of people would toss their trash in a trash can and yell “Kobe!” He will always be remembered as one of the best basketball players of all time. There is a reason that he is the first player to ever have two jersey numbers retired for the same team. The NBA announced that Kobe will be inducted into the basketball Hall of Fame in the 2020 class. 

Dozens of murals and vigils have popped up all over L.A. and every NBA team has honored Kobe in some way. His impact on the world was seen with international organizations paying homage to his legacy. We will not forget the Black Mamba, Gianna Bryant and the seven other people who tragically passed away. 

jdwillis@willamette.edu

No comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.