Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, The Black Mamba struck, dribbled, dunked and SCORED for 20 years in the National Basketball Association (NBA), for the Los Angeles Lakers. As an 18 time All-Star, two time Scoring Champ, selected 15 times to an All NBA team, 12 times one time MVP, two times Finals MVP, and a five time Champion, He ended with career in 2016 at the age of 37, being both successful in his basketball career and his personal life. He married his wife, Vanessa Laine Bryant, and had four children, Gianna , Natalia, Bianka, and Capri. Tragically, however, on January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant (known to all as Kobe) would die in a helicopter crash on the way to one of his daughter’s basketball games with eight other victims, including his daughter, Gianna.
Kobe was special in that he didn’t commit to a college. Instead, he went straight from Lower Merion High School to the 1996 NBA Draft. He was taken 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets. Later that night, he would be traded to the Lakers. He would be named to the All-Rookie team despite him having a slow start to his career. However, Kobe would have a much better sophomore year and would be a dynamic duo with the newly acquired Shaquille O’Neal. In their time together, they would create a dynasty and become one of the few teams to win three championships in a row. But that didn’t last long due to their inability to get along. Shaq was more of a party guy while Kobe’s career was founded on the basis of outworking your opponent. In 2004, Shaq left LA for the Miami Heat to become a duo with Shooting Guard, Dwyane Wade. Kobe became the lone star for the first time in his career.
Kobe averaged around 28 points per game, but in the 2004 season, he was labeled a “ball hog.” The Lakers missed the playoffs. This would drive him crazy and make him work harder than anyone in the league. Up at 4:30 in the morning to work, he would do everything in his power to win. While everyone slept, Kobe worked. Thus was born The Mamba Mentality: the mindset that every day you should do your best to make the best you. This mindset isn’t just athletes but you can use this mindset for your everyday life. With all this hard work, Kobe would go OFF! Averaging 35.4 points per game and would set the league on fire. One night on January 22, 2006, Kobe Bryant would score 81 points in a comeback victory against the Raptors. However, they would lose in the first round against the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers would lose to the Suns the next season in the first round again. However, this wouldn’t last long.
In 2008, the Lakers traded with the Memphis Grizzlies to get a sidekick for Kobe: Pau Gasol. Kobe finally had help! With this, not only did Kobe win the 2008 MVP, they made it all the way to the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, they would fall to the Boston Celtics led by the Big 3 of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen. The next year, Kobe would finally get his first ring without Shaq, sweeping the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals, 4-0 with Kobe as the Finals MVP. As great this ring met for his career, the one title that had the most meaning to his career was the next year when the Lakers defeated the Big 3 Celtics 4-3 with Kobe as the Finals MVP again. That ring was a symbol of hard work paying off throughout the years.
Unfortunately, in 2013, his career would age way faster due to him tearing his Achilles in one of the last games of the regular season against the Warriors. He only played six games the next season and the Lakers haven’t made the playoffs ever since. 2016 would be his last season and at the end of his retirement tour on April 13, 2016, Kobe dropped 60 points on the Utah Jazz to end his career.
He didn’t stop there though. Kobe, a father of four, Gianna, Natalia, Bianka, and Carpi, wrote a book called “The Mamba Mentality”, coached his daughter, Gianna, and won an Oscar for his short film “Dear Basketball.”
Kobe was only 41 years old when he died on January 26 by a helicopter crash, alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant, and seven other victims, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, and pilot Ara Zobayan. Flying over Calabasas, they were headed toward a tournament at Mamba Sports Academy. The resulting crash was speculated to be a result of the pilot trying to fly higher and special permission for the pilot to fly in foggy weather. Earlier in the day, it was clear skies but later on fog got heavy. Speculation abounds that weather conditions hindered the pilot’s scope of vision, resulting in the crash Throughout the week after Kobe’s death, many murals, and memorials have been made including one in front of Staples Center, where the Lakers play.
A lot of students at Terra Linda felt something missing, having lost an idol and an icon. Kai Walker, Point Guard for the Freshman Basketball team, spoke on how Kobe impacted him, saying,”…he inspired me to work hard and to work on things that I need to know to get tough mentally and physically and to perfect my game.” Another basketball player who had a say in this subject is JV Forward, Tyler Ford, who commented about people being attached to athletes saying,” It’s kind of a respect but it’s also a love when you see someone balling out and it inspires you to be great too.”
Kobe’s not only impacted our student body, but has also affected our teachers. Many of our staff are basketball fans, including our world cultures teacher, Keith Fleming, who contemplated, “I was really curious to see what Kobe was going to do with the rest of his years.” Kobe was looking forward to a life of achievements and relaxation after his retirement in 2016. It’s a shame we won’t see what he has for the future, as he left behind a gap in basketball culture. “Certainly America seems to be shaken, even people around the world have emailed me and been like,‘Oh my god, Kobe Bryant died.’” said Mr.Fleming, stating how not just our local basketball area or California is affected, but world wide, Kobe had a large imprint in basketball culture. We can see his international affect through fan created murals, memorials, or tribute to him and Gianna’s honor. Restaurants like South Bay Brewery or street artists like Efren Andaluz created murals on walls to honor them both and the other eight victims.
Kobes Death left a large imprint and gap in basketball culture, because many fans grew up on his image, Mr.Fleming saying, “As far as the TL basketball program, I think kids your age growing up Kobe Bryant was already a legend, and he was still playing basketball. So I think a lot of young people are probably affected.” Not only youth are affected, but fans that have followed him from the beginning of his career in 1996 can be affected as its a challenge to deal with losing an idol/insparation of many years. “
Kobe Bean Bryant, one of the greatest to ever touch a basketball, an icon, a legend: he may be gone but he will never be forgotten.