The Legacy of Kobe Bryant

Maliik Cooper, Sports Editor

The basketball world has lost one of its brightest stars. On Jan. 25, just before 10 a.m. PT, Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna lost their lives along with seven other passengers in a helicopter crash. 

The cause of the crash is still being investigated, however we do know that the helicopter was operating in foggy weather conditions. The firm that owned the helicopter has also stated that the helicopter wasn’t licensed to fly in foggy conditions. Kobe was en route to his “Mamba Sports Academy” for a youth basketball event.

An outpouring of support and grief has surfaced from people around the world following these tragic deaths. Celebrities, government officials, and everyday people alike are all mourning.         

“We are not okay. But we will find the strength to pull through this together because that’s what Kobe would want us to do,” Former NBA MVP Allen Iverson said in a statement he released the day after the news broke. 

Allen Iverson (#3) and Kobe Bryant (#8) share a few words during the 2001 NBA Finals
(Photo by Wally Skalij – Los Angeles Times)

Many people share this sentiment, including South Pointe men’s basketball coach Melvin Watson. Coach Watson has a profound amount of respect for Bryant, which he expressed in a recent interview with SPiN Wired.

“I wasn’t always a Kobe Bryant fan, but as I got older I became a fan. Just being in awe of his ability to always improve himself as a person overall. After a game, if he didn’t shoot well he was in the gym for two hours. And he’s back up early, 5 o’clock in the morning getting shots up again… Even though I tried and I worked really hard at it, I wasn’t at that level Kobe was at.”

Kobe Bryant and Andrew D. Berstein promoting his new book in 2018
(Photo Courtesy of Andrew D. Bernstein)

The most memorable trait Kobe Bryant possessed was his legendary will to succeed. Kobe had an undying drive to be the best he could possibly be. This constant hunger to reach greater heights became what we know today as the “Mamba Mentality” (a play on Kobe’s nickname of “The Black Mamba”). Most basketball fans know Mamba Mentality as the relentless, attacking mindset Kobe had when he played. No matter the circumstances, no matter the situation, you could never count out the Black Mamba.

In October of 2018, Kobe’s first and only book was released. He titled it “The Mamba Mentality” and wrote it about the lifestyle it took to make him the basketball superstar we know him as today.

“In my entire career, I’ve never seen a player as dedicated to being the best. His determination is unparalleled. He unquestionably worked harder than anyone else I have ever played with,” Pau Gasol remarked in his foreword from the book. “Kobe knew that to be the best you need a different approach from everyone else. He would challenge players and coaches to match his intensity, his desire, to bring their very best every single day, not just games, but at practices, too.”

While Kobe undoubtedly had plenty of wisdom he’d yet to share, the knowledge he did share will live on for generations to come.

The opening quote from Kobe’s book reads, “This book is dedicated to the next generation of great athletes. May you find the power in understanding the journey of others to help create your own. Just make it better than this one.”

Jamia Blake, the starting shooting guard for South Pointe’s varsity girls basketball team, was deeply touched by the passing of her favorite players.

“Once he passed, it really did touch me. And the next day we had practice. I really tried to come in and have that Mamba Mentality. This being my senior season, I really wanna finish out practice and games with that Mamba Mentality.”

South Pointe star guard Jamia Blake at Media Day just ahead of the varsity State Championship
(Photo Courtesy of the “Carolina Girls Hoops Report” on Twitter)

Eric McCrorey, a football player for South Pointe is another one of the athletes Kobe influenced, showing his effect beyond the game of basketball.

When asked about Kobe’s effect on his life, Eric replied, “Even though I don’t play basketball I can honestly say Kobe is a role model for me. Playing football, what I took away from him is his work ethic, his integrity, they say Kobe was the first one in the gym and the last to leave. That shows how much work he puts into what he does, and how dedicated he was.”

South Pointe Defensive Back Eric McCrorey on special teams
(Photo by Ms. Konicki)

The passing of this cultural icon only seems to have made his message hit closer to home with all the lives he was able to touch. We will always remember Kobe for his dominance on the court, but also his mastery of preparation off the court. We’ll remember his Oscar and other accolades, but then pause to remember that he wanted his journey to jump-start ours.

Eric McCrorey said it best when he stated, “He does what he has to to change people’s lives.”

So as everyone reflects on the lives we lost that fateful Sunday morning, they’ll also be doing what they can to honor the memory of Kobe Bean Bryant. Nothing would make him happier than to know that Mamba Mentality will fuel the successes of people from all walks of life for generations to come.