A Celebration of Life

Lakers honor both Kobe and Gianna by laying out their jerseys courtside.

NY Post

Lakers honor both Kobe and Gianna by laying out their jerseys courtside.

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“We all die. The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” – Chuck Palahniuk.

USA Today
Bryant shown as a high school student, just a year before making his leap to the big stage in the NBA.

Kobe Bryant was born on August 23rd, 1978, in Philadelphia. He was the youngest of three children and the son of former NBA player Joe Bryant. He grew up loving the game of basketball, and started all four years for his varsity basketball team at Lower Merion. As a senior, he averaged 31 points, 12 rebounds, and 6 assists, and brought a state championship to his school for the first time in 53 years. Despite having multiple college blue bloods recruit him, he decided to pass up on the opportunity of college and take his talents straight to the professional level. He played his entire 19 year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning five NBA championships and becoming synonymous with the word greatness. Mr. Bryant was set to be inducted into the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame this summer.

By the time this article has been revised and published, it would almost have been impossible for most people to not have heard the news of his passing. Bryant passed away, along with his daughter and seven other people who are set to be mentioned later in the article, on January 26th. All of the passengers aboard the helicopter were on the way to the girls’ basketball game. While initial reports stated Kobe’s entire family may have been involved, the victims were Kobe and Gianna Bryant, Payton and Sarah Chester, Alyssa John and Keri Altobelli, Ara Zabayan, and Christina Mauser.

Kobe was an absolute star on the court, and was an influence to a number of players throughout the NBA. His fearless mindset and “mamba mentality” set him apart from the other players that surrounded him within the league. While during his time he was set apart from the rest of the league, he also inspired the next generation of players ready to surpass him.

“I grew up with Kobe. Kobe influenced my life. Looking up to him, one of the reasons I started playing basketball,” says young all-star Giannis Antetokounmpo. Kobe inspired an entire generation of young ball players, allowing Giannis to say that his name is even synonymous with “greatness.” One of Kobe’s closest on the court relationships was with Brooklyn Nets’ Kyrie Irving.

Orlando Silva
One of the many logo changes fans want the NBA to consider to honor the skill and craft of Bryant.

“I think the most beautiful thing is that it’s connecting all of us.” This statement by Irving can be seen through the precedents being set throughout the entire league. On the day of his passing, the teams that had games scheduled honored Bryant by taking both 24 second shooting violations and 8 second back-court violations, both representing the numbers Bryant wore throughout his career.

The NBA and everyone involved in it has honored Bryant in the only way they see fit, to “keep on going,” as Bryant once said. Many NBA coaches have been seen wearing Bryant’s shoes on the sidelines, while many players, like Spencer Dinwiddie, have been “informally retiring” his jersey numbers. The NBA has also issued a mandate to have each All-Star team wear the numbers 2 and 24, to honor both Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.

While Kobe was the man on the court, he was an even better man off of the court. Despite having a harmful blow to his reputation during his younger years, Bryant established his ability to be a good person throughout his life. He broke the mold for an athlete, as he was also a philanthropist, an academy award winner, and an author. More importantly than any of these, Kobe Bryant was a terrific father for his daughters.

People would constantly ask Bryant if he wanted a son to continue on his legacy. Kobe would always say that he never needed a son to carry on his legacy, as he would have his daughter to pick up the torch for him. Indeed, Gianna seemed to be becoming the heir to the Bryant throne, and she even hoped to play for the university of Connecticut one day. The women’s basketball team held a moment of silence for their passing during one of their games.  The relationship they had together was special, and it was one that was cut short entirely too quickly. Bryant will be survived by his wife Vanessa, and his other three daughters that were not involved in the crash.

Emily Van de Riet
Kobe pictured here with his family on last year’s Christmas card, showing the addition of their youngest daughter.

Let this article not be a mourning of death, but instead a reflection of his life. Kobe was a man who rather than let people sit and mourn over him, would want them to get up and to continue the great fight. For generations to come, his legacy both on the court and off of it will be imprinted onto the people.

“In the Words of Kobe Bryant, Mamba out. But in the words of us, not forgotten. Live on brother.” – Lebron James.