SAN ANTONIO – NBA legend Kobe Bryant tragically died at the age of 41 in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California, Sunday, January 26. A total of nine people were killed, amongst those was the daughter of Bryant 13-year-old Gianna (Gigi) Bryant.
When the tragic news broke by TMZ, many people from around the world were in utter disbelief. Some even thought the TMZ account might have been hacked. However, other organizations quickly confirmed that Bryant and the others had indeed died in the crash.
Drafted at only 17-years-old in 1996 straight out of high school, Bryant quickly grew into a star with the Los Angeles Lakers. Throughout Bryant’s 20-year illustrious career, all with the Lakers, his reach surpassed further than anyone could ever fathom.
Bryant was a global icon for the NBA, his play inspired fans all over the world, but his mentality on how he approached the game and anything he set out to accomplish is what many will remember. Bryant brought an unmatched will and attitude to the court. His unrelenting and unintimidated mentality gave birth to what is known as the “Mamba Mentality.”
Photo via GIPHY Kobe Bryant not phased by ball fake
After Bryant decided to call an end to his Hall-of-Fame career, he initially left basketball entirely behind him and distanced himself from the game. It was not until his daughter Gigi made it apparent that she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps that basketball became a staple in his life again. Bryant was seen court-side at Lakers’ games with his daughter by his side, giving her lessons on how he saw the game. Although at just 13-years-old NBA and WNBA stars could already see that Bryant was going to be a star at the professional level, unfortunately, the world will never be able to witness it happen. Bryant was recently on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” talking about his daughter and her drive to carry on the legacy of her father.
“The best thing that happens is when we go out, and fans will come up to me and she’ll be standing next to me, and they’ll be like, ‘You gotta have a boy, man. You and [Vanessa] gotta have a boy. Have somebody carry on the tradition, the legacy,'” Bryant said. “And she’s like, ‘Oy! I got this! You don’t need no boy for that, I got this.'”
Bryant was honored with moments of silence, 24-second shot-clock violations and eight-second backcourt violations during various NBA games following the shocking news. Current Lakers’ star LeBron James amongst those that took to social media to express their shock, sadness and love for the Bryants and other victims of this devastating tragedy.
“I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!!” James stated on his Instagram post.
Bryant leaves behind his wife Vanessa Bryant (age 37), daughters Natalia Bryant (age 17), Bianka Bryant (age 3) and Capri Bryant (age 7-months). Hall-of-Fame (HOF) Chairman Jerry Colangelo announced today that Bryant would be posthumously inducted into the HOF, taking place August in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Many will continue to call out “KOBE!” as they attempt a fade-away jumper on the court or paper-ball trashcan shot in the office. Although Bryant is no longer with us, his legacy will never die. As a player, father, philanthropist and friend, he will forever be enshrined as a global NBA icon and in the Greatest of All Time debates.
Kobe Bryant Career Awards
- Academy Award Best Animated Short Dear Basketball (2018)
- 5× NBA champion (2000–2002, 2009–2010)
- 2× NBA Finals MVP (2009–2010)
- NBA Most Valuable Player (2008)
- 15× NBA All-Star (1998, 2000–2013)
- 4× NBA All-Star Game MVP
(2002, 2007, 2009, 2011)
- 2× NBA scoring champion (2006–2007)
- 11× All-NBA First Team (2002–2004, 2006–2013)
- 2× All-NBA Second Team (2000–2001)
- 2× All-NBA Third Team (1999, 2005)
- 9× NBA All-Defensive First Team
(2000, 2003–2004, 2006–2011)
- 3× NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2001–2002, 2012)
- NBA All-Rookie Second Team (1997)
- NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion (1997)
- 4th in NBA all-time scoring
- Los Angeles Lakers all-time leading scorer
- Naismith Prep Player of the Year
- Nos. 8 & 24 retired by Los Angeles Lakers