Kobe Bryants’ passing came as a shock to athletes, fans, and families all over the world. He was undoubtedly one of the best players to ever set foot on a basketball court, and his tragic death sent a profound message to society. He was more than a player, as he influenced all those around him through his “Mamba Mentality,” which stressed a relentless work ethic to achieve the unachievable.
Bryant knew he was special from the moment he started to play basketball, but was constantly told that professional sports were out of his reach. His father served as his inspiration, as he was a former NBA player and taught Kobe from a very young age. Kobe single-handedly led his school, Lower Merion High School, to four consecutive state championships after not being a contender for fifty-three years. His statistics were unreal for such a young player, and Kobe entered the NBA Draft at eighteen years of age. He was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th pick of the 1996 NBA Draft, and was subsequently traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Los Angeles was where Kobe established himself as one of the greats, and playing alongside other legends, such as Shaquille O’ Neal, only brought the Lakers more glory. Bryant won three consecutive titles with O’ Neal, and then two without him. Kobe was named “MVP” in 2008, “NBA Finals MVP” on two occasions, “NBA All-Star” eighteen times, and “NBA All-Star Game MVP” four times.
His talent and work ethic won him many awards and recognitions in the NBA and the Olympics. Bryant was a gold medalist at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, representing the United States alongside other NBA superstars. After constantly amazing the loyal Los Angeles fans for twenty years, Kobe’s final injury-ridden seasons led him to retirement, which he announced in the heartfelt poem “Dear Basketball,” which was later turned into an Academy Award-winning animated short film by the same name. “My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind. But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye,” Bryant said. His final game at the Staples Center astonished the world once more after the All-Star scored sixty points as a sweet farewell and tribute to his astonishing career.
Kobe Bryant was an inspiration to many other athletes, cross-sport, and motivated many of them with his “Mamba Mentality.” Despite the talent that played a major role in Kobe’s success, he states that what truly led him to greatness was his mindset. “To sum up what Mamba Mentality is, it means to be able to constantly try to be the best version of yourself.” This mentality, which was coined by Bryant, describes the relentless work ethic which he used in both training and competition. Under the positive influence of this mental fortitude, Bryant worked hard to achieve his legendary status. The Mamba Mentality has been applied by most of Kobe’s admirers, and has had a positive influence on society thus far, even for those with no connection to Bryant himself or to the world of athletics. Thus, Bryant’s passing has been a shock to the world, and people do not just grieve a legendary athlete, but a life-long inspiration and a man who embodied the American dream and work ethic. Bryant did not just impact the world with his emphasis on hard work and personal growth, but was also a philanthropist at heart. He founded the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation, which gives back by providing underserved communities and athletes with sports programs and financial support to enable participation in school or league sports. Rising athletes with potential do not always come from stable families, and this foundation strives to provide all athletes with an opportunity to excel. Kobe also made his mark by creating the Mamba Sports Academy, which aimed to train young and adult athletes. Here, he trained his daughter, Gianna, who was heir to the throne with her impending success in the WNBA. His success as an athlete, influencer, and father is unmatched.
Kobe and Gianna Bryant passed away on January 26, 2020, in a helicopter crash against the side of a mountain in Calabasas, California. Their death delivered a harsh blow to society, but it also served as a reminder of the true extent of the Mamba Mentality, and as a wake-up call for people to honor Kobe’s life by employing his values in their lives and striving to become the best versions of themselves. Kobe’s brutal passing must be grieved, but it can not be taken in vain, and must serve to inspire people to live life to the fullest and constantly work hard; it must propel the Mamba Mentality forwards.