Kobe Bryant’s death on Jan. 26 sent shockwaves throughout the world in ways that haven’t been seen, perhaps ever. Bryant, along with eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, was killed when his helicopter slammed into a hillside near Calabasas while flying through thick, blinding fog.
What the world lost by the death of the former Lakers superstar cannot adequately be summed up by what he did on the court; winning five NBA championships, an NBA MVP award, 18 all-star selections and many other accolades were threatening to become perhaps secondary to what Bryant had evolved into since he retired in 2016.
The player that garnered the well-deserved reputation of being a cold-blooded assassin on the hardwood had developed a much softer image since he called it a career. For every memory of him nailing a game-winning shot, an accompanying image of Bryant with his daughters sitting with him courtside, or of him teaching Gianna the game, or of him showering his wife Vanessa with love and affection, had become burned into the minds of those who had followed his life after retirement. He took the same intensity that made him what he was on the court and channeled it into becoming one of basketball’s great ambassadors.
Bryant, a shoe-in for induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in August, no longer is able to gift the basketball world with a speech that would undoubtedly have proved fascinating, sure to have been filled with anecdotes and insights into his career and what got him to the pinnacle he reached. And that hurts that we have been robbed of that.
But it goes even deeper than that, which is what makes this so hard for so many. Bryant had so, so much more to give the world. His legacy left with so much more to be written. Kobe had developed his own multimedia production company “Granity” with which he had already accomplished what many spend their entire lives working to achieve, winning an Academy Award for his short animated film “Dear Basketball,” created based on a poem that he had written bidding his farewell to the game that had brought him into all of our lives.
But that was the Black Mamba, as he had become known, doing the seemingly improbable while brightening the lives of others, and for that, the world thanks you, Kobe. Rest in peace.
Kobe Bean Bryant: Aug. 23, 1978- Jan. 26, 2020.