I lay in my bed reading the notifications on my phone that Kobe had died.
I couldn’t believe it, and I refused to believe it.
Kobe was my first hero, the first person I wanted to be like.
He was the reason I played basketball until high school.
He was everything to me.
I remember going to a game in Denver just to watch Kobe Bryant play.
It was in 2007, and I had dreams of being a basketball player since the day I started watching Kobe. I was mesmerized as a kid, I was in the same building as my hero.
Not until this weekend did I realize just how incredible that day was. I was the closest I would ever be to a man who embodied so much more than basketball. Kobe didn’t do anything incredible that night I saw him play, but he had 24 points, fitting, right?
Now you might look at this story and wonder why someone who plays soccer is writing a story about a basketball legend.
He was always a part of my life and he will be for the rest of my life.
Mamba mentality isn’t just for basketball, nor is it only for athletes.
It’s for everyone.
It’s the mindset of never giving up on what you believe in.
In two words, Mamba Mentality summarizes Kobe’s life.
He was told by counselors that he would never amount to anything, that basketball was a waste of his time. Now we stand here, looking back and saying that he may be the best player of all time.
Many words have been thrown around in the media to describe Kobe.
Legend. Hero. Icon. But the one that describes Kobe the most for me is Father.
Kobe was a father, and it was more important to him than basketball ever was. You could see that every time he was with Gianna (his daughter) at a basketball game. He was dedicated to being present in all four of his daughters’ lives.
That has been taken away from him and his family. They will never see their dad again. Kobe will never get to hold his daughters again.
Watching all of the testimonies, all of the social media posts, all of the news specials show what an incredible person he was.
He advocated for women’s basketball.
He won an academy award in his animated short “Dear Basketball.”
He continued to do things that people said he couldn’t, which is something we can all learn from.
It’s important to remember that what happened on Sunday was nothing less than a tragedy. It wasn’t just a tragedy for the world of basketball, it was a tragedy for the nine people who lost their lives in that helicopter crash.
We will miss Kobe and everything he has done for us, but never forget those people that were with him who lost their lives too.
Kobe Bryant. Gianna Bryant. John Altobelli. Keri Altobelli. Alyssa Altobelli. Sarah Chester. Payton Chester. Christina Mauser. Ara Zobayan.
These names represent families torn apart, communities crippled and countless grieving souls.
Listening to some of Kobe’s interviews and even his academy award-winning film, it’s chilling.
Hearing the voice of the man I revere as an icon, knowing he’s gone makes my body shake.
My body has been hurting for days, and it’s hard to realize that he’s gone.
Knowing everything he still wanted to do and knowing that he would’ve accomplished what he wanted to, it’s a pain that won’t be gone for a long time.
In LeBron James’ response to Kobe’s death, he said, “I promise you I will continue your legacy.”
I think that is on all of our shoulders as well.
It’s not about basketball; it’s about so much more than that. It’s about everything that Kobe stood for, the people he helped directly, and the millions he inspired.
It’s up to us to remember one of the greatest athletes, fathers, and persons.
So the next time you walk past a garbage can trying to throw something away, take a few steps back and take the shot while you yell, “Kobe!”