The Legacy of Kobe Bryant

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Luke White, Sports Editor

The basketball world lost a legend on Sunday, Jan. 26, as Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna “Gigi” Maria Onore Bryant, and seven others died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. He was 41 years old.
Bryant and his daughter were on their way to the Mamba Sports Academy, a basketball facility created by the former Los Angeles Lakers star, for a basketball game that Gianna was to play in and Bryant was to coach.
According to CNN meteorologist Michael Guy, the area, 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, was foggy and cloudy with very low visibility. According to a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department, the conditions did not meet the minimum standards for flying.
Bryant leaves behind his wife, Vanessa, and three daughters, the oldest being 17 and the youngest being just 7 months old. Other victims in the crash include Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli and his wife and daughter, who was a teammate of Gianna’s.
Bryant, nicknamed the Black Mamba, had one of the most illustrious careers in NBA history, spending his entire career with the Lakers. His death came just one day after current Laker LeBron James passed him as third on the NBA all-time scoring list.
Bryant racked up numerous accomplishments during his career, becoming one of the greatest players to step foot on the court. Bryant was voted to the All-Star Game 18 times, while being named the game’s MVP on four occasions, an NBA record. He won the NBA’s most valuable player award in 2008.
Bryant was selected 13th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft out of Lower Merion High School near Philadelphia. In his second season, he became the youngest All-Star in NBA history when we was just 19 years old.
Bryant, along with teammate Shaquille O’Neal, won his first NBA Championship in 2000, the first of three straight Finals victories for the Lakers. He went on to win the NBA title in 2009 and 2010 as well, being elected the Finals MVP both years. He won gold medals for the United States at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.
Bryant ended his career in a winning fashion on April 13, 2016, scoring 60 points in a 101-96 win versus the Utah Jazz. His accomplishments extended beyond the court, as we won an Academy Award in 2018 for his short film Dear Basketball.
Bryant’s actions on and off the court inspired people across the world. After the news of Bryant’s death broke, there was an outpouring of support from athletes and celebrities.
“Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act,” former president Barack Obama tweeted. “To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day.”
“He was one of the first ones to leave high school and come to the NBA and do so well, dominating the game and becoming one of the best scorers that the Los Angeles Lakers has ever seen,” former Laker great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said. “This loss, it’s just hard to comprehend.”
In honor of Bryant, who wore the numbers 8 and 24 during his NBA career, basketball teams across the nation took 8-second and 24-second violations. Teams also wore practice jerseys with Bryant’s name and number on them to show their respects.
On Jan. 29, Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, posted a statement on Instagram regarding the loss of her husband and daughter.
“I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way,” she said. “Our love for them is endless–and that’s to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them, and bless them. Have them here with us, forever.”
While Bryant may not be with us anymore, his legacy will live on forever.