Kobe Bryant- Gone But Never Forgotten

David Joyce, Staff Reporter

On Sunday January 26th, the entire world was hit with the sudden and shocking news of the death of Kobe Bryant. Kobe Bryant was one of the best basketball players of all time when he played for the Lakers from 1996 to 2016. Kobe Bryant won one NBA most valuable player award as well as five NBA championships. Kobe was an eighteen time All Star and won the NBA finals Most Valuable Player award twice.

Although for Kobe Bryant, it was not his gift of being six foot six that got him to where he was. It was what became known as his “Mamba Mentality”. Kobe was given the nickname the “Black Mamba” and the term “Mamba Mentality” came from his relentless work effort. Kobe will forever be known for his never give up attitude and his “out work everyone” style of doing things. Kobe Bryant was a perfectionist. For example, in the playoffs he needed just one game to win the series and was asked by a reporter how it felt and his response was that the job was not done yet. The term Mamba Mentality became a term used for more than just sports, Kobe even wrote a book about it that was titled “The Mamba Mentality”. The moment that Kobe showed the mamba mentality the most was in a game where he tore his Achilles with about 3 minutes left to go. Kobe had a choice to make after a timeout come out of the game due to a career threatening injury or stay in the game and shoot the free throws in a game where the Lakers were down by two. He had made two threes right before this to keep the Lakers in the game. After the timeout, Kobe, who was determined to finish what he started limped toward the free throw line and made both of his free throws with a torn Achilles. That was the moment that sticks in every basketball fan’s mind when they think of the mamba mentality.

In Kobe’s last game, he scored 60 points that game and it was aired by ESPN the day after his death so that people could see Kobe play one last time. Although Kobe Bryant was an accomplished athlete on the court, he would say that his biggest accomplishment was being a father. Kobe and his wife Vanessa had 4 daughters Natalia (17), Gianna (13), Bianka (3), and Capri (7 months). Kobe took pride in being as he called It a “girl dad”. Kobe loved all of his children, but it was obvious that through Gianna’s love for the game of basketball that she had grown the closest with him. She would often be seen sitting court side with him at NBA games while he would teach her the game. With Kobe as your father you we’re not just getting a brief description of what was going on, you we’re getting a precise explanation of what the players were doing and why they were doing it. After games they would go up to players, and Kobe would take pictures of them with his daughter. Every player’s dream during their off season was to workout with Kobe and to have him coach them up. Gianna had that every day especially with Kobe becoming the coach of her travel basketball team. Kobe said in an interview that he flew by helicopter when traffic in Los Angles became so bad that he would not have time to make it from his practices and workouts to his children’s activities. So he needed a new way to be not only a basketball player but a parent as well so he started flying by helicopter.

This is where the story becomes tragic. Kobe had taken helicopters for almost his whole career so it was not a big deal when he decided to take his daughter and some of her teammates as well as their parents on a helicopter ride to their travel basketball game. It was a foggy day and most helicopters were not given clearance to take off that day. But pilot, Aro Zobayan, was such a skilled pilot that the decision was made that this helicopter could fly anyway. The cause of the crash is not yet clear. There were nine people on board: Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, John Altobelli a college baseball coach, his wife Keri, and daughter Alyssa, pilot Ara Zobayan, Christian Mauser, Sarah Chester, and her daughter Payton were all killed in the crash leaving it with no survivors. There was no black box on board.

With the tragic events having taken place, there comes a time where you must ask what comes next? The Grammy’s was the same night at the Staples Center where Kobe had played his entire career. Alicia Keys payed tribute to Kobe with a speech and his jerseys that hung at the top of the arena after they were retired by the Lakers had a light shining on them the whole night. The Lakers game set to be played against the Clippers two days after the accident was postponed. Kobe Bryant who had been so well respected in the basketball community had his impact felt as teams for the next few days took 8 and 24 second violations to honor the 2 numbers he wore in his career. The Dallas Mavericks retired the number 24 while many other players such as Spencer Dinwiddie, Terrance Ross, Jahlil Okafor and other switched their numbers to make sure that his numbers would not be worn again. Others such as Joel Embiid wore his number for one game and scored 24 points exactly to honor him. Their was a petition going among fans to get the NBA logo changed from fellow Laker legend Jerry West to Kobe Bryant that got over two million signatures.

Although Kobe may be remembered for his 81 point game against the Raptors or for him being 4th all time in scoring, or for even winning an Oscar, he was so much more than that. He was a role model and an icon. He was a role model because he inspired so many young kids like myself to want to wear the number 24 to be like him. He caught the hearts of all sports fans for his never say die attitude and for gaining the respect of those around him by just simply working hard. Kobe Bryant will also have a lasting memory on others for being a father as he passed with his daughter. He will always be the person that was a basketball legend, and the guy whose moves kids tried to do in their driveways, and the guy who’s name people would yell when simply shooting a piece of paper in a garbage can. But that is not why Kobe was a role model and an icon or even what he will be remembered for. To put it simply he will be remembered for being the creator and the model of what the Mamba Mentality means.