One Year Without Kobe Bean Bryant

By Matteo Herrera 

It has been over a year. Kobe Bean Bryant passed away at the age of 41, on Jan. 26, 2020, in a helicopter crash with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, assistant coach Christina Mauser, Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, Altobelli’s wife, and daughter, Sarah Chester, and her daughter, and pilot Ara Zobayan.  

He was the heir to Michael Jordan and was seen as one of the greatest basketball players to play basketball. He won five National Basketball Association (NBA) championships, a Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, 18 All-star selections, two scoring titles, two Olympic gold medals, multiple NBA records, and an Oscar.

“The work ethic he had hasn’t been seen from no other player. This is what made Kobe different from everyone else,” said New York Knicks fan and University of Tampa student, Carlos Martinez.  

He retired in the 2015-2016 NBA season after playing 20 seasons for the Los Angeles Lakers and didn’t play for anyone else. 

Through all his hard work and dedication, he created “The Mamba Mentality.” “I always aimed to kill the opposition,” wrote Kobe Bryant in The Players Tribune

When his teammates weren’t helping him win, Kobe would be merciless to them if they were underperforming. He was criticized for being selfish for not passing the ball to his teammates. Kobe embraced it, he studied the game of basketball, and he became an assassin. He skipped college to take over the NBA at the age of 17. 

“The Mamba Mentality was an inspirational story, as he was a man who, no matter what, tried to push the boundaries beyond any normal basketball player,” said Brooklyn Nets fan and University Tampa student, Lucas Chaparro. “From charities to traveling worldwide to underprivileged kids, he would encourage people to always follow their dreams. Kobe left a long-lasting impact as he inspired people on and off the courts. Kobe is a player that will live on in history. His death made news headlines around the world. No one sports player has left that much of a hole in the world as much as him. People will honor his life by grinding to be the very best they can be. Not just a good player, but a great person.”

Since then, he has been a student and savant to the sport of basketball. When he retired, he was dedicated to the youth in various ways.

“The biggest key, I think, is inspiring the next generation of athletes, and how to do that, and I think content is a potent tool of inspiring the next generation of athletes, and that’s what I’m looking forward to,” said Bryant at the 2016 ESPYS Awards. 

Kobe’s first step out of retirement was releasing, Dear Basketball, an animated short film and a love letter to basketball. The film was an inspiration to many and showed Kobe’s path to becoming one of the world’s best players and his love for the game.

The production won Bryant the 2018 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film as well as an Oscar. 

Kobe’s mission wasn’t just to teach the sport. It taught me that life is more significant than sports; to embrace team sports values such as sacrifice, teamwork, and effort. 

He began coaching his daughter Gianna and her team. Their main priority was winning and making it to college ball while teaching them his hard work mentality. They would practice almost every day; he said practicing only three days out of the week wasn’t enough. 

The Mamba Sports Academy was Bryant’s sports facility pushing his mission. Today it has changed its name, but still aiming to teach the values and goals Kobe wanted to teach. 

He took his daughters to multiple professional basketball games. One of the viral videos of Kobe was him courtside teaching his daughter. 

During his retirement, he was spotted multiple times talking to players at the games, giving words of wisdom to his whole environment. 

“Kobe taught me that dedication sees dreams come true. Give it everything you got,” said Sabrina Ionescu of the New York Liberty. 

“He helped me and said every day he wants to be the best person in the gym and put on a show each day,” said Los Angeles Dodgers player Mookie Betts. 

“He was one of the people who were there for me to give me some precious advice and guidelines to believe and trust in myself, trust the process that I’ll be back,” said tennis player Novak Djokovic on Bryant inspiring him during his injury. 

“The biggest Mamba Mentality moment of my career was getting up from a torn Achilles. I saw Kobe do it, once I tore mine, I knew I had to walk off,” said 49ers football player Richard Sherman. 

“That drive to always be victorious, it stops you from sleeping. You sacrifice many things because you’re so driven to be so great that other things fall by the wayside at times,” said NBA player LeBron James on Kobe’s philosophy and the inspiration. 

In his passing, people honored his name in many ways. There were memorials, tributes, and moments of silence. Soccer player Neymar held up the number 24 to the camera after scoring a goal. Basketball teams would run out the shot clock to start the game, which was 24 seconds. Trae Young wore the number eight in a game to honor his idol. LeBron James wore and still wears a finger wrap with the number 24 on it. The Lakers released Mamba City jerseys with the number eight in the front and 24 on the back. The Lakers wore the jersey during the NBA playoffs on route to win the championship. 

The world changed drastically since his passing. What would’ve happened if he was still here? He inspired so many with his philosophy and touched people around the world. The death of Kobe was felt everywhere, leaving a mark on the planet. People are still grasping the fact that he is gone. 

We all miss you, Kobe.

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