The life and legacy of Kobe Bryant


On Jan. 26, 2020, a routine helicopter ride from Orange County to Thousand Oaks in California turned fatal. Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven of their close friends were killed as their helicopter crashed on the Calabasas hillsides.

Kobe Bryant had a promising career full of many achievements. He was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996 at the age of seventeen and was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, which led him to a legendary 20-year career.

From the time he was drafted, and throughout his career, Kobe Bryant was a five-time National Basketball Association (NBA) champion with seven NBA final appearances. He was also a three-time NBA Most Valued Player (MVP) and a two-time scoring champion of 30 thousand points in the first five years of playing with the Lakers. In his 20-year career, Kobe Bryant was an NBA all-star for eighteen consecutive years and a four-time NBA all-star game MVP.

He had an incredible work ethic, and his life was defined by the hard work he put into basketball. The five-time NBA champion, whose jersey numbers, which were 8 and 24, retired for the Lakers when he was 35 years and was known for his immense talent on the court.

Having achieved a rewarding career, in 2016, Kobe Bryant chose to retire to focus on coaching, other business ventures and his number one priority, his family. Not only did he redefine basketball, Kobe Bryant also created a business empire that stretched beyond the basketball court.

In 2013, Kobe Bryant co-founded Bryant Stibel, a venture capital firm that was meant to provide strategy, capital and operational support to businesses who focused on technology, media and data. He also founded Granity Studios, an award-winning multimedia original content company focused on creating new ways to tell stories about sports. With this company, Kobe Bryant created his movie Dear Basketball, which won an Oscar in 2017. The animated film showcasing Kobe Bryant’s career and was based on a letter he had written to The Players’ Tribune announcing his retirement.

Also in December 2016, Kobe Bryant established the Mamba Sports Academy, named after his infamous nickname “The Black Mamba.” It is a multisport training center featuring incredible coaches operating five basketball courts, five volleyball courts, two beach volleyball courts, batting cages, pitching mounds and a jiu-jitsu school. Kobe Bryant stated on the Mamba Sports Academy website that “MAMBA Sports Academy is a natural expansion of my commitment to educating and empowering the next generation of kids through sports.” Kobe Bryant’s focus was to provide a safe and transparent training center to help athletes reach the peak of their potential through work, effort and the Mamba Mentality. Kobe Bryant’s term, Mamba Mentality, was recognized throughout his career, as he believed that training your mind is just as important as training your body.

In an interview with ESPN, Kobe Bryant stated, “Mamba mentality is a constant quest to find answers. It’s that infinite curiosity to want to be better, to figure things out. Mamba mentality is you’re going, you’re competing, you’re not worried about the end result. … That’s what Mamba Mentality truly is.” In other words, the Mamba Mentality is to constantly be working to be the best version of one, and this is instilled into every athlete that trains under the MAMBA Sports Center.

Despite being one of the greatest athletes of all time, his family was the most important thing in his life and his number one priority. He met his wife Vanessa in 1999 and was married to her for 20 years. Vanessa was with him through it all and fought through the hitches in their relationship. In those twenty years, they had four girls, and they were an ever-present part of his life.

Kobe Bryant also stated that he wanted something new from fatherhood: he wanted to teach and learn from girls, and because of that, he was proud to be a “girls dad.” He often spoke about being a family man and had also stated that he hadn’t gone to the Lakers home games as much because his daughters were growing up, and he wanted to be with them every step of the way.

Photo courtesy of the LA Times

His daughter Gianna aspired to be in the Women’s National Basketball Association. At the young age of thirteen, she was one of the key basketball players on her school team and on her dad’s Mamba team. Kobe Bryant often spoke about Gianna Bryant and her curiosity of the game, often discussing plays and answering detailed questions about specific plays in the game.

Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant would go to NBA games together frequently and Gianna Bryant’s dream was to play for the University of Connecticut’s women’s basketball team. Kobe Bryant was extremely involved in his family and had dedicated time to push the female presence in sports forward, as he constantly shed light on female athletes.

Kobe Bryant was many things: an extraordinary basketball player, an Olympic gold medalist, an Oscar winner, a leader, a businessman, a coach, a father and a husband. He touched the lives of people all across the world and is someone who will be remembered constantly throughout all of sports history. And as the tributes, candles and memorials come to an end, and as we all move on with our lives, Kobe Bryant’s legacy will live on forever.