Remembering Kobe Bryant

Darwin Lopez, Staff Reporter

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NBA legend and Oscar-winner Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna ‘Gigi’ Bryant, were two of the passengers who died on Jan. 26 , in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

According to ESPN, the Los Angeles County Sheriff stated that there were no survivors in the crash. It has been widely reported that all nine people aboard the helicopter have died.

Among those who passed away is Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli. Altobelli’s wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa, were also among the victims, according to ESPN. Altobelli’s assistant reported the name to the Orange County Register. Additional victims of the tragedy include a girls basketball coach, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester and her daughter, Payton, and the pilot of the helicopter, Ara Zobayan.

Gianna was inspired by her father to become a professional basketball player. In a 2018 segment on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” Bryant said “Gigi” was confident she could uphold her father’s basketball legacy. Gigi’s  life was cut short at 13 years of age, with dreams of becoming a professional basketball player, and famously wanting to play for the University of Connecticut.

Bryant held an impressive legacy as a professional basketball player as he held multiple accolades throughout his career, including:

  • Five NBA Titles 
  • Two Olympic Gold Medals 
  • Fourth in the NBA All-Time Scoring list (33,643 points)
  • Two NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards
  • One regular season MVP 
  • 18-time NBA All-Star
  • 15-time All-NBA team 
  • 12-time All-NBA defensive team 

Bryant is also considered one of the all-time greatest basketball players and he spent all of his fruitful 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. He is number one in the Lakers’ points totals, 3-point field goals made, steals and games played. He is number two in assists for the purple and gold.

Despite his accumulated accomplishments, in 2003 Bryant was accused of sexual assault, but the charges were ultimately dropped according to the New York Times. Later, the lawsuit was settled out of court after Bryant publicly apologized for not understanding that their encounter was anything but consensual.

Ultimately, Bryant has remained an inspiration to many people, including some of  Cal State LA’s basketball players.

Los Angeles native and Cal State LA point guard, Bailey Kikuchi, shared this statement on Bryant’s impact: “‘Kobe was my favorite player growing up. Being from LA and watching him play for 20 years was a blessing. He made the city what it is today and he was the best to ever do it.”

“Kobe’s strive for greatness is truly unmatched. I’m just thankful for everything he has done for the game and his impact on people around the world. His legacy will live on forever. Thank you, Kobe. We love you,”  Kikuchi added.

Bryant didn’t just impact basketball players, he also impacted the people who watched him perform. Fans of the Lakers legend rounded up near his academy, “Mamba Academy,” at Newbury Park in Newport Beach. They also gathered in El Segundo outside the Lakers’ training facility, and at the LA Live Plaza across from Staples Center in Los Angeles.

East LA resident and Bryant fan Isaac Casas said, “I learned leadership from him. I learned a lot of leadership coming from him. He had everyone respect him.”

Casas was one of many Bryant fans who crowded near the Staples Center to mourn the legend’s death. Casas also said Bryant’s persistence in the 2001 NBA finals is the most remarkable thing he has ever seen, even to this day.

Kobe Bryant’s nickname, the “Black Mamba,” inspired many to always work harder than others to pursue what they want to achieve, calling that mindset the “mamba mentality.”

Bryant branched out of sports with his Oscar-winning short film, “Dear Basketball,” which brought to life his farewell poem to his NBA career. He also wrote and published multiple books. Bryant dedicated one of his written works to spreading what he learned in basketball through fiction, called “The Wizenard” series, and another one about him sharing what’s on his mind in the sport of basketball, called “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play.”

The legacy of Kobe and Gianna Bryant will continue to live on through his wife, Vanessa Bryant, and his daughters Natalia, Bianka, and Capri Bryant. Bryant described himself best in the short film, “Dear Basketball:”

“I’ll Always be that kid,

With the rolled up socks,

Garbage can in the corner,

:05 seconds on the clock,

Ball in my hands,

5…4…3…2…1.