Kobe Bryant

Brooks Frere, Reporter

Kobe Bryant was a professional basketball player and arguably one of the best of all time. Bryant was the 13th pick of the NBA draft in 1996, not attending college and immediately going to the Los Angeles Lakers at only 17 years old. Bryant continued to play with Los Angeles for all 20 years of his career, winning 5 NBA championships.  Bryant wasn’t just a basketball player, he was an icon and a person to look up to in the community. He spread influence throughout the world on a mentality that he carried throughout his whole life. This mentality became known as the Mamba Mentality. The “Mamba Mentality” rooted from his nickname “The Black Mamba”, that Bryant had given to himself after watching Quenten Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” where the mamba snake was a code name for an assassin. To him, it meant agility and aggressiveness; the traits of a black mamba snake. “Mamba mentality is all about focusing on the process and trusting in the hard work when it matters most”, Bryant said. “It’s the ultimate mantra for the competitive spirit.  It started just as a hashtag that came to me one day, and it’s grown into something athletes — and even non-athletes — embrace as a mindset.”

Kobe Bryant, pointing to the crowd during a game against the New Orleans Pelicans back in his younger years when he wore number eight on his uniform.

As Bryant had said the Mamba Mentality didn’t just apply to basketball, but to all areas of life, the mentality he spread, was to ensure that you worked hard in all areas of life, no matter what you are doing. This did not only bring success to him, but others that looked up to him. Basketball wasn’t the only thing he cared about though, Kobe played in countless charity games and participated in many fundraiser and charity events. He taught many people, with his actions about dedication and how much was needed to be sacrificed for greatness. He toured around to different schools with a program called After-School All-Stars, where he promoted academic success to kids and encouraged kids to set and achieve their goals. Bryant wrote a book about Mamba Mentality in 2018 called “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play”, which gave his perspective in life and basketball. He wrote the book to teach young players “the right way” to go about learning basketball and achieving greatness with a different mentality and teaching the amount of work that goes into it. Kobe also wrote an animated short film called “Dear Basketball” which won an Academy Award in 2018. In the film, he talks about his love for basketball at a young age and how it motivated him to work hard to set himself apart from other players. The film is animated sketch oriented and won the award for best animated short film. Bryant continuously showed his passion for others, and created a foundation to help homeless youth in Los Angeles. The foundation has been a lasting help by collecting donations and spreading awareness. He donated over 1 million dollars to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and sent $5,000 to a Sacramento area Girls basketball team who desperately needed financial assistance so the girls could continue playing basketball.

After countless selfless actions by Kobe Bryant, his passing on January 26th 2020 at only 41 years old has left many people around the world devastated. The death of Bryant, his 13 year old daughter Gianna, and the few other children and parents on Gianna’s basketball team came by surprise on the Sunday morning as the helicopter transporting them to a basketball practice, spun out of control, crashing to the ground. The crash caused a crazy outburst in social media and effected many people who knew him, basketball fans, and general population who knew

Kobe Bryant, his three daughters and his wife standing center court on the night he got not one, but two of his jerseys retired.

everything that he did for people. Within the next few weeks following his death, there were numerous tributes to honor him and his family. At the Grammys, the Oscars, various basketball games and events, there was a moment of silence for honoring Kobe and his daughter. Through the world of professional basketball, feelings of mournfulness were not uncommon, lots of players had close connection to the NBA star, so as well as being struck with surprise, there was immediate sympathy for his whole family. A way of honoring Kobe during basketball games that became popular throughout the league was holding the ball before crossing half court for an eight second violation. This showed respect to one of Kobe’s numbers that he had while playing for the Lakers. His other number with Los Angeles was number 24. To honor number 24, the other team would cross half court and hold the ball for a 24 second violation before continuing the game.

Many students at Sehome also felt connection to Kobe and were deeply sad when discovering his death. “Kobe was an icon” Elliott Tanovan(11) said “He was very important to me, especially in basketball. He was the reason I started playing basketball, I just wanted to be like him so his death was devastating.” Elliott is a varsity basketball player for Sehome who; like many others, saw Kobe as an inspiration. Through his mamba mentality and his amazing basketball skills, inspiration could be drawn from several areas from Kobe’s life. Kobe Bryant is also well known for his 81 point game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006 which is second place for the most points scored in one game under Wilt Chamberlain in 1962. “I am super sad about the news that I received and was surprised.” Jacob Scott(11) said “The Mamba mentality is something that I keep at heart, I looked up to him.” mamba mentality didn’t just apply to basketball, for many people it applied to their whole life, in everything that they did.

Some people had different ways of showing their love for Kobe; Lou Williams, a 33 year old NBA basketball player for the Los Angeles Clippers, was close friends with Kobe, and said that he always encouraged Williams to strive for the best. Williams also was a music artist and released a song to tribute Kobe called 24; “I just wanted to write an open letter to a dear friend of mine.” Williams said. Williams just wanted to show his appreciation for Kobe, and did it through a song. “Mamba mentality I’m just tryna’ be great,” Williams says in his song. Williams was deeply heartbroken hearing the news and expressed it over social media similar to many other players. Shaquille O’neal, a retired NBA player, who played with Kobe on the Lakers for many years and formed a brother like connection with him. “There’s no words to express the pain I’m going through with this tragedy of losing my niece Gigi & my brother @kobebryant I love u and u will be missed.” O’neal expressed on Twitter “My condolences goes out to the Bryant family and the families of the other passengers on board. IM SICK RIGHT NOW” O’neal felt it deeply due to playing basketball with him for so long, and becoming close friends with him.

Kobe was an amazing influence throughout the game of basketball and all aspects of life. He is recognized as an extremely hard working individual, an amazing teammate, father, basketball player, friend, and motivating people young and old to take on a “Mamba Mentality” of their own. Throughout the world of basketball, and within his family, friends and everyone who he influenced, Kobe Bryant will be missed.