The Lasting Legacy of Kobe Bryant

Fans mourn the loss and celebrate the contributions of Kobe Bryant.

Ryan Bridgman, Tangents Editor

On January 26, tragedy struck. Retired basketball star, Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on his way to a basketball game at Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, California. His 13 year-old daughter Gianna, six family friends, and his pilot were also killed as a result of the crash.

Although the loss of Bryant was tragic, fans were quick to remember the positive impact that Bryant had on them. The former Los Angeles Lakers’ shooting guard averaged 25 points per game throughout his NBA career and was known for his “mamba mentality” mindset of always wanting to improve and compete.

Lee Business & Information Technology teacher Charles Howard was introduced to Kobe Bryant when Bryant was a high school athlete. Howard, a Lakers fan, followed Bryant’s path to success and was deeply affected by his loss.

“Kobe is one of the players I admire for not only the way he played the game, skill-wise, but his mental tenacity, his intellect, and the things he did outside of basketball,” Howard said.

Some of the contributions Bryant made outside of his time on the court included helping build homes and basketball courts, along with stocking food pantries. In 20 years, Bryant appeared more than 100 times for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, giving children opportunities to meet with him during difficult times of their lives. He had also given back a great portion of his money and time to the community, supporting and attending reading and athletic programs, along with many other activities.

On February 24, a memorial service was held for Kobe, Gianna, and the other victims of the helicopter crash at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The attendees included friends and family of Bryant, along with fellow NBA basketball players that played alongside him.

Former NBA player and Hall of Famer, Michael Jordan made an appearance to talk about his close relationship with Bryant. Jordan expressed how he acted as a mentor to Bryant, referring to Bryant as his “little brother”.

“He used to call me, text me, 11:30, 2:30, 3 o’clock in the morning, talking about post-up moves, footwork, and sometimes, the triangle,” Jordan said.

Bryant’s wife, Vanessa also made an emotional appearance to the ceremony. She spoke about her relationships with Kobe and Gianna and the special memories that she will cherish and remember of them.

Fans of basketball viewed Bryant as a competitor. He had an amazing work ethic, intelligence, dedication, and personality. This made him very easily liked and respected among the basketball community. He was known for getting mad at players for not trying to the best of their abilities during games. This made him a positive role model for not just basketball players but for fans in general.

Howard described his personal connection to Bryant’s famous number, 24. “My high school number was 24, both of my sons were born, one on March 24th, one on December 24th, I got my first college job when I was 24 years old. His daughter’s [Gianna] number was #2. I have two boys, and I gave my boys a book last summer on the ‘mamba mentality.’ Both of my boys play high school basketball and they aspire to play professional basketball.”

It is fair to say that Kobe Bryant has helped shape and influence many fans’ lives in such a positive manner, on and off the court. His legacy will forever be cherished by the whole world.