Kobe Bryant: A Legacy That Will Last Forever
Often, when news stories pop up on our phone, we brush them off. Few stories affect us deeply enough to halt our everyday routines. But when the notification about Kobe Bryant’s passing appeared, it felt like the world stopped.
On January 26th, Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were involved in a fatal helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of 7 others. The helicopter was en route to Gianna’s basketball game in Calabasas when it encountered heavy fog that caused the chopper to crash into the mountainside.
After being drafted out of high school, Bryant was an unstoppable force with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning five NBA championships over 20 seasons. Bryant was an 18-time All-Star and was named the Most Valuable Player in the NBA in 2008. The two numbers he wore throughout his career—‘8’ and ‘24’— were retired by the Lakers in 2017. An anonymous sophomore said that, “he was arguably one of the best to ever put on a Lakers’ jersey.”. They continued by saying “His work ethic was unmatched, he had that mamba mentality”. Mamba mentality refers to Bryant’s nickname as the “Black Mamba”. In Bryant’s autobiography, he referred to the “Mamba mentality as a constant quest to find answers. It’s that infinite curiosity to want to be better, to figure things out. That’s what mamba mentality truly is,” Kobe explained.
At only 13 years old, Bryant’s daughter, Gianna ‘GiGi’ Bryant, was just beginning to make a name for herself in the game of basketball. She lit up the court as a member of her travel team, Mamba Sports Academy. GiGi saw her dad as a role model and modeled her game after him. She was dreaming of playing basketball at the University of Connecticut and later in the WNBA.
Teams across the NBA participated in tributes to Bryant by having one team hold the ball for 24 seconds at the beginning of each game, which would incur a 24-second violation, while the opposing team would not cross the half-court line which incurred an eight-second violation. These actions were done in honor of Bryant’s numbers. Tributes have also made their way into other sports, with tennis player Novak Djokovic wearing Bryant’s initials on his warm-up jacket. Soccer player Neymar also paid his respects by wearing a custom jersey with Bryant’s name and number. At the Super Bowl, both teams lined up on the 24-yard line and held a moment of silence before the game. During the halftime performance, a cross was lit up with the Lakers colors.
On January 31st, the Lakers were scheduled to play the Portland Trail Blazers in the first game since Bryant’s tragic death. In an emotional pre-game memorial, star player LeBron James addressed the grieving crowd with uplifting words about Bryant, saying, “Tonight we celebrate the kid that came here at 18 years of age, retired at 38 and became probably the best dad we’ve seen over the last three years, man.”
At Packer, students felt the same way. Jayden Cole (‘22) said that he was “shocked to the core” when he heard about his death. August Geraci (‘22) said that “Kobe was one of the first players [he’d] ever watched, Kobe inspired me to be a better basketball player”.
Even though Kobe Bryant is gone, his influence will continue to ripple throughout the athletic community, as his passion and drive shaped many of those we consider to be leaders in not only the world of basketball but in athletics as a whole.