Writer: Sarah P.
Editor: Lucas V.
Visuals: Allison L.
On January 26, legendary basketball star Kobe Bryant, aged 41, was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Bryant and the other passengers were en route to Thousand Oaks for a basketball game at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy, where Bryant was expected to coach. The helicopter took off in the morning amid foggy conditions before crashing into a hillside due to the low visibility. The impact immediately killed Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, along with the seven others also aboard the helicopter.
Over two decades earlier, a 17-year-old Bryant was drafted directly out of high school by the Charlotte Hornets and traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. During his debut season, he set records with his age, becoming the youngest player, youngest starter, youngest Slam Dunk Contest winner, and youngest All-Star starter in league history. The 2000-1 NBA season would mark the beginning of the famed “Three-peat”, where Bryant’s partnership with teammate Shaquille O’Neal led the Lakers to three successive NBA titles. In the coming years, Bryant would be named the league MVP once and NBA finals MVP twice after leading the Lakers to consecutive titles in 2009 and 2010. He also thrived on the international stage, winning gold medals for USA Basketball in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. He would spend all 20 years of his NBA career with the Lakers before retiring in 2016.
News of his death had repercussions all around the world. Fans mourned his tragic passing by gathering in signature purple and yellow jerseys with Bryant’s retired numbers—24 and 8—on their chests. Major events like the Grammys and various NBA games offered tributes to honor the late legend. Social media was flooded with messages in memory of Bryant from former teammates, public figures, and fans alike, including members of the ISM community.
In fact, the response from ISM students brought to light the impact Bryant had as a role model to students at ISM. Many student athletes, in particular, were influenced by Bryant. “Kobe Bryant was such an inspiration,” says freshman Jacob T. regarding the NBA star. “Even if you didn’t like him as a player, you respected him because he did so much for the game.” Freshman Eric P. further explains, “[Bryant] was a hard-working player and he had a great work ethic,” referencing Bryant’s extraordinary commitment and competitive spirit.
Ultimately, Kobe Bryant left the world a legacy that will never be forgotten, and one that even those who lack a love of basketball can learn from. As junior Keitaro H. put it, “Everyone should adopt, or at least have a sense of the famed “Mamba Mentality”. Kobe, in whatever he did, always strived for excellence and didn’t stop until he got what he wanted. This mentality, much like Kobe, transcends sports and can be applied to all things in life.” In response to struggles in life, Keitaro continues, “this is what Kobe would’ve said: ‘Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses.’”
Blinder, Alan, et al. “N.B.A. Star Kobe Bryant Dies in California Helicopter Crash.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 Jan. 2020, http://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/26/sports/basketball/kobe-bryant-dead.html#link-336cf745.
“Kobe Bryant: The Making of a Global Superstar.” CNN, Cable News Network, edition.cnn.com/interactive/2020/01/sport/kobe-bryant-life-timeline-spt-intl/index.html.