By Mollie Campbell
Kobe Bryant, more than just a basketball player.
Kobe, Bean, Mamba, Black Mamba…a King among men. The first thing I picture when I think of Kobe Bryant is a 6’6’’man leaping gracefully into the air, gliding towards the golden ring that shaped his life, battling for the win, like a painting of some ancient God. My favourite Kobe memory, the same for many, is that final game he played for the Lakers on April 13 2016, it was as if he was being electrically charged by every single game of basketball he had ever played, surging through his veins and seeping onto the court. His feet pounded on the glossy Staples Center floor, exuding power, he harnessed his otherworldly ability one last time, finishing the game with an NBA-Season high of 60 points. It was more than just a game, it was poetic…this sums Kobe up, exceeding expectations for an athlete both on and off the court.
Kobe Bryant was like King Arthur, his thunderous spirit acting as a beacon, a guiding light for his knights…carrying them to victory. But even in those quiet years, in the face of adversity, he kept going. Even though at times it felt as though the Lakers fire was turning to ash, he quietly kept the embers warm, until they sparked and roared again. He encompassed everything that could be great about human resilience, reminding us of the power we have. He relished in it, he pushed the boundaries, until his relentless vision of creating history became a reality. We all know Kobe as the superhero he became, but as with every great hero, the backstory is everything. The people of Los Angeles and the world watched him as his journey began, a 17 year- old kid from Lower Merion high school with a passion in his heart and a fire in his eyes. They watched him grow from a talented, energetic boy, into a seemingly invincible man. Quoting Kobe himself: ‘It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.’ His journey included 20 loyal seasons with the Lakers, 5 NBA Championships, 18 All-Star games, 2 NBA Finals MVP Awards and 2 Olympic Gold medals. But it was his equally important life off the court that really shaped Kobe into the Mamba the world knows today.
Kobe became such a hero in the world of sport, but it was his infectious smile, resilient attitude and kindness towards others that gained him the title of hero in his personal life as well. He became a voice for the voiceless, a leader for the lost…somebody for people to look up to, without ever feeling like less of a human being in doing that, Kobe made sure of it. This is why he became so famous off the court too, even countries around the world that couldn’t even access Basketball on TV became fans…it was as if he had become some sort of religious figure in the world of sport and in other realms…the fact that he won an Oscar speaks for itself. And that is the reason the whole world felt as though it had tilted off its axis on January 26th 2020, the man who had turned into a fairy-tale figure, was taken away from us. The worst part is the fact that he had so much more to give than he already had, in the words of Barack Obama: ‘Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act.’ Kobe’s retirement saw him publicly embrace his role as super-dad, inspire multiple generations with his positive attitude, rise up in terms of charity and giving back, and becoming a patron of basketball AND the arts…proving his mamba mentality stood for so much more than just a game.
As an avid fan of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe Bryant, I am devastated along with everybody else. This one hit hard, I stared at the TV for hours, kept refreshing his Wikipedia page, praying it was all an elaborate hoax. He has left a huge gaping hole in basketball, and in the world, this is going to be raw for a while…but we can do this. We can keep moving forwards, harnessing the powerful remnants Kobe left for us, we can all use the mamba mentality, it doesn’t matter which field you are in, strive to be the best you can possibly be, and enjoy the journey. Live every day to the fullest, keep working hard, embrace any failures and let them be what makes you succeed.
I would like to take this time to pay my respects to every life that was lost on that day: Alyssa Altobelli, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser, Ara Zobayan, Gianna Bryant and Kobe Bryant. My thoughts are with every family involved.
“Once you know what failure feels like, determination chases success.” – Kobe Bryant.