When the name Kobe Bryant comes up in conversation, what do you think? Do you remember him as the five-time NBA champion, or was he the person you would root against in any circumstance?
Nevertheless, he was also a person who shined off the court following retirement. He was a family man until his last breath.
Bryant, 41, was killed in a helicopter crash Sunday morning. Along with him, his daughter, Gianna, 13, and seven others were also killed as they were flying to Gianna’s basketball game.
Bryant was one of the most talented NBA players of all-time. An athlete we may never see again in our lifetime.
It’s challenging to put into words how you describe an athlete of his stature. You can’t. No matter how I write or rewrite, something just seems off.
I’m simply struggling of how to comprehend a death in the sports world that, frankly, we’ve never seen before.
The way he transcended the game of basketball was unparalleled and difficult to compare. The biggest comparison to Bryant was that of Michael Jordan, who released a statement via Twitter Sunday.
“I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe and Gianna’s passing,” Jordan said. “Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe – he was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much…”
Following his retirement in 2016, he wasn’t like most athletes after they finished playing. He wasn’t in the news much. He didn’t go and pursue a sports broadcasting career, as many try to do. Instead, he made a movie and coached his daughter’s AAU basketball team.
Bryant became the first professional athlete to win an Academy Award in 2018 for Best Animated Short Film. The short film,”Dear Basketball” was written and directed by Bryant. In his acceptance speech, he credited his motivation to his daughters and wife.
“To my wife Vanessa and our daughters Natalia, Gianna and Bianka, ti amo con tutto il cuore [I love you with all my heart]. You are my inspiration,” he said.
Bryant wasn’t just an athlete. He was fluent in English, Italian and Spanish. He was an intelligent human being who used it in so many places of his life. From the court, the entertainment industry and his passion for his family, his impact was uncanny.
Bryant is survived by Vanessa, 37, and three of their four children together: daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months
Bryant created the “Mamba Mentality” which motivated him to succeed in his everyday goals.
“There’s a choice that we have to make as people, as individuals,” Bryant said about the Mamba Mentality. “If you want to be great at something, there’s a choice you have to make. We all can be masters at our craft, but you have to make a choice. What I mean by that is, there are inherent sacrifices that come along with that. Family time, hanging out with friends, being a great friend, being a great son, nephew, whatever the case may be. There are sacrifices that come along with making that decision.”
While Bryant is gone, his legacy will be remembered. The impact he made, and is still making, will continue to impact the sports world for generations to come.