By JACOB RAMOS
Rest in peace to the man who brought endless joy to the basketball world.
At only age forty-one, the legendary Kobe Bryant, died in a tragic helicopter crash, along with thirteen year old daughter Gianna Bryant, on Sunday, Jan. 26.
Tragically, Bryant was reported by Thirty Mile Zone (TMZ) to be traveling with his daughter and seven others. As reports state, all nine aboard the helicopter, including the pilot, were killed instantly. Officials could not find a cause of the crash immediately.
Presently, the National Basketball Association (NBA) community mourns Bryant in a variety of ways. Teams such as the Atlanta Hawks took eight second backcourt violations to honor Bryant’s years wearing the number 8, while the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors each took twenty-four second shot clock violations to honor the Kobe who wore number 24.
As expected, the immediate public mourning of Kobe Bryant was held outside of the Staples Center, where fans and even Laker players shared tears, grief and comfort. On social media, support from NBA legends, players, fans and coaches poured out in a beautiful display of compassion for the Bryant family and those killed in the accident.
Gianna Bryant was an aspiring basketball player who was often seen courtside with her father at NBA games. Gianna was credited by her dad for getting him back into NBA basketball, pushing him to buy the NBA package and asking him to sit with her to watch basketball. In fact, the family and passengers aboard the helicopter were on route to a basketball game.
Kobe Bryant, who spent twenty years with the Los Angeles Lakers, was considered a cultural icon, not just in Los Angeles, but in popular basketball culture around the world. With Kobe’s influence, the game saw massive expansion into India, China, Mexico, Italy and Canada.
As an athlete, Kobe is widely regarded by experts as a top ten player of all time. While spending his entire career in Los Angeles, Kobe managed to win five NBA championships, one Most Valuable Player (MVP) award and two NBA Finals MVP awards. Seen as one of the most loyal athletes in the history of sports, Bryant consistently gave back to the community in Los Angeles, while staying faithful to his team through losing seasons.
At the beginning of his career, Bryant overcame a rape charge that spurred many to question if he would spend his playing years in prison. After many questions regarding his faithfulness to his wife, Bryant and his wife Vanessa settled down and had four daughters, who each play sports. The Bryants aged in front of the spotlight for years, constantly under scrutiny, but always seeming to be in a mostly positive light.
After retiring in 2016, Bryant has been seen in public numerous times supporting his daughter’s various sports games. Bryant has also remained active in the NBA community, frequently showing up court-side to games for the Lakers, most notably seeing his jersey being retired.
Bryant’s death came one day after seeing Lebron James pass him on the all time scoring list. James was congratulated by Bryant on social media shortly after passing him.
Bryant served as more than a basketball player to my generation. Even not being a Laker fan, growing up in the Los Angeles area, Kobe soon grew to be one of my favorite players. For the basketball world, on January 26th, an icon was lost; for Los Angeles, a legend was lost.
Kobe Bryant’s death serves as a painful reminder that not anything in life is guaranteed and can change at any instant.
Life is short, keep the ones you love close.