By JOSEPH QUESADA
On Jan. 26, 2019, a helicopter carrying nine passengers, including basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, crashed over Calabasas, California, killing everyone on board. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The world has lost yet another icon.
The morning of Sunday, Jan. 26 witnessed the death of NBA legend and professional sports figure Kobe Bryant. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Bryant, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and 7 others, died in a tragic helicopter crash in the hills of Calabasas, California. The terrible accident resulted after the helicopter allegedly attempted to navigate foggy and turbulent weather conditions en route to Bryant’s youth basketball academy outside Los Angeles. This event is a horrendous loss to not only the directly affected family and friends, but also to the community of Los Angeles and quite possibly the world as a whole.
Bryant was an inspiration to millions, a number that includes some of Citrus Valley High School’s very own students. Senior Noah Irons, who is a lifetime Lakers fan, relayed his anguish following the news of Bryant’s death, “I was just at a loss for words, it didn’t feel real. I was in a daze because I’ve looked up to him most of my life.”
At Redlands East Valley High School, junior Ozzie Ozonoh also reacted to this sudden death, stating “I play volleyball and usually we get to see Kobe support his family at tournaments because we play in the same division as his oldest daughter, Natalia.”
“Two weekends ago we played the club team that he founded. I play the same position as Natalia so he and Gigi, the daughter that died in the crash with him, sat in the front row watching everyone play,” said Ozonoh. “Hearing that he died just a few days later after I saw him in person was a big shock.”
Ozonoh also stated,“It just made me realize how quickly life can be taken away, and that even the best people can lose their lives in and instant.”
Bryant, 41, was a beloved basketball player who spent the length of his basketball career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe was drafted in the first round back in 1995, and he would go onto win 5 championships and multiple MVP awards with the team. Bryant’s 20 year tenure, which ended after his retirement in 2016, will go down as one of the most decorated and prolific NBA careers of all time. Over 30,000 career points, 6,000 assists, more than a dozen All Pro selections and nearly a decade of All Star appearances are just a few of the accolades acquired by the athlete who has repeatedly been referred to as “one of the great competitors of any generation” by SportsCenter.
Bryant’s incredible legacy goes much further than his professional career; he was known partly by his alter ego of Black Mamba, a combination of killer athletic instinct, precise execution and incredible preparation. His “Mamba Mentality” was the mindset he adopted to develope a work ethic that would go on to be the standard for all rising NBA stars to come after him.
Countless players, including San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Demar Derozan, modeled their play style and work ethic after Bryant. Following a loss to the Toronto Raptors, Derozan stated, “Words can’t explain it. For myself, learning everything I’ve learned basketball-wise from Kobe. What he meant to the game, the inspiration that he brought to the world. His impact on the basketball world is one that can be claimed by few others and will definitely maintain its relevance for generations to come.”
Kobe Bryant’s post-career featured him constantly giving back to his community. Bryant opened his Mamba Youth Academy in 2016 to serve young, up-and-coming basketball players, providing them with the resources necessary to develop their skillsets.
As the world mourns Kobe Bryant mourn, it is important that we reflect on the legacy that he left behind.