Kobe Bryant. Gone at age 41. Killed in a tragic chopper crash while on the way to his daughter Gianna’s basketball game.
Kobe Bryant. Basketball legend. An 18-time NBA All-Star. With a record 4 NBA All-Star MVP awards. With 5 NBA titles with the LA Lakers, with 2 Finals MVPs. Plus 2 Olympic gold medals and a bevy of NBA records that spanned 20 prideful years wearing the Lakers’ purple and gold.
Kobe Bryant, aka the Black Mamba. As a competitor, his now-famous ‘Mamba mentality’ would grudgingly gain the admiration of even his toughest opponents. This mentality combined a grueling work ethic, a mean mental game, a single-minded focus to learn and improve the way he played, and a killer instinct that showed no mercy for the enemy. He would carry and profess this Mamba mentality not just in the game he so loved to play, but in dealing with life’s daily challenges.
But despite his cold-blooded assassin persona on the court, Kobe Bryant possessed an endearing warmth that touched the lives of people all over the world. Not just from his exploits on the court, but also off the court. His 2008 Academy Award for Best Animated Film in “Dear Basketball” clearly demonstrated his consuming desire to produce excellent work. Thus, he inspired not just a new generation of athletes, he enchanted fans and provided excitement for people across the globe. He set a fitting example of pride, of dogged determination, of passion and the quest for excellence in one’s craft.
Kobe was also a community unifier, and this was evident in how LA and the entire Southern California – irrespective of race or religion – were galvanized as Kobe dazzled at the Staples Center. This was made poignantly clear as the whole world grieved at the news of his untimely demise. Kobe not only showed his colors on the court, he demonstrated his love for the community – and for the world – through numerous well-intentioned neighborhood projects with real social impact.
Finally, in the twilight of his basketball career, Kobe demonstrated another facet of his persona; that of a devout family man, and a doting father to his kids. In fact, he was on his way to his daughter’s basketball game – to mentor, to cheer, to inspire, and to show respect and devotion to a game that nurtured him and gave him a fairy tale life – when tragedy struck.
The Black Mamba is gone. But he will be remembered. With fondness, with love, with much respect. The Basketball world will remember. The whole world will remember.
And even as the world mourns the death of an icon, the game of basketball will continue to grow and glow. Yes, the show MUST go on. For the Black Mamba, we can do no less.
We will miss you, Kobe. Rest in peace.
For a closer look, just click on the pics. Photos courtesy of: Sports Illustrated (cover photo), US Weekly, Time Magazine, CBS Sports, Sporting News, The Daily Express, The Mercury News, NBC Sports, Slam Magazine, WCAI, Encyclopedia Brittannica, Barrhead Leader, The New York post, Bleacher Report, Close-Up 360, KGNS, E-News!, ESPN.com, NBC News, Nepal24hrs.com and The Morning Call.