Charlotte Hornets: A Tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant

Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers Kobe Bryant. (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images) /

Former Charlotte Hornets draft pick, Kobe Bryant, and his daughter sadly passed away after a tragic helicopter accident.

Today we lost one of the most influential people in sports history and former Charlotte Hornets draft pick, Kobe Bryant. We found out that Kobe Bryant and his oldest daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Maria-Onore, were among two of the five people killed in a horrific helicopter accident in Calabasas, Califonia.

Now I will try to give him a tribute from my broken and heavy heart.

I would like to first say that I can not give a perfect tribute. I also can not express my desire to, despite my inability. Kobe was most well known for his five championships, scoring records, and his “Mamba Mentality.” But I would like to first address the other aspects of his life.

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Kobe was a Husband and Father. He leaves behind his wife, Vanessa Bryant and three daughters, Capri Kobe, Natalia Diamante, and Bianka Bella. Kobe was as supportive of a father as you’ll ever see. Supporting his daughters in anything and everything that they were passionate about.

Gigi had a passion for basketball, so Kobe coached her team and tried to teach her everything he knew about the game. They were just recently seen at an NBA game where Kobe was court side talking to Gigi about his observations, and she was listening intently to him. She shared the same passion that he had for the game of basketball.

Kobe loved his post-basketball life as much as he did his on-court career.

Kobe became passionate about filmmaking. He always sought out new avenues to creating the best content possible. He truly was a perfectionist in everything he ever did in life.

His perfectionism led to him winning an Oscar for his 2017 short-film “Dear Basketball.”  The six-minute film was based on a poem that he wrote to the Players Tribune in which he announced his retirement. Kobe directed and narrated his film. Give it a watch if you have not, you will not be disappointed.

Kobe also wrote a book about his basketball career entitled The Mamba Mentality: How I Play. It highlighted his most memorable and prominent moments throughout his career.

He had countless endorsements and television appearances.

Kobe Bryant gave back to the community and the nation through his numerous different charities and non-profit organizations. Kobe was much more than a basketball player, and his life after basketball should not be forgotten or buried. Understanding who was as a person is more important than his NBA accomplishments.

With that being said, why people fell in love with Kobe was indeed from his NBA career as a basketball player. I can not complete a tribute to “The Black Mamba” without detailing his basketball career. So here I go.

Kobe won five championships, won two gold medals, was an 18-time all-star, MVP, multiple time finals MVP, won two scoring titles, and is currently fourth all-time in career points in NBA history. There are an innumerable amount of other accomplishments as well.

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But setting all of his records and championships aside, there was something about him that set him apart from everyone else: His mental attitude towards everything in life, but especially basketball.

This mentality was about never letting up, and more importantly, it was about never giving up on yourself and always giving your absolute all, even if that meant showing no mercy.

He deemed this mentality “Mamba Mentality” and took on the identity of the “Black Mamba.” This attitude inspired so many and was adopted across the nation, across sports, and across the globe.

Kobe always thought that way. He was a one-of-a-kind competitor.

That competitive spirit began when he lived in Italy as a child. He was one of the only African-American kids at his school at the time. He felt discriminated against and bullied. He found a way to gain a sense of control back. However, Bryant found that he was talented at basketball; he was better than his bullies. You better believe he took advantage of that opportunity to get back at them.

As he grew older, he moved to the United States. This did not change his competitive spirit. When he was in high school, he made a “kill list” of sorts. Anyone his school team played against that had a player ranked higher him on it, he made sure to destroy them. He was on a mission.

He began that mission when he was barely in the top 200 during his sophomore year. His ranking gradually climbed until he was number 1 as a senior in high school. He took basketball very seriously.

Kobe attributed so much of his success to just working harder than everyone else around him. Instead of sitting in the cafeteria eating for the entire lunch period, he would leave early and go to the gym and work.

When Kobe spoke back on being drafted, he said that the most shocking thing about the league was that the players just didn’t work that hard. He said that he knew at that moment that he would succeed in the NBA. He was right.

Quotes like that go to show one of his most impressive qualities. He was a basketball savant.

He saw the game of basketball so intellectually and detail-oriented. He found people’s weaknesses effortlessly and would exploit them with ease.

He was one of the greatest defenders of all time because of this. His athleticism and conditioning combined with his IQ struck fear in his opponents. He knew it too. He loved it.

Kobe will go down as one of the greatest players to ever play on a basketball court. His endless tough shots, impossible shots, clutch shots, his incomprehensible 81 point game. His fierce competitive mentality will always be his calling card.

There are so many Kobe Bryant stories and moments in his life and I can’t list them all. He is my favorite player of all time and has inspired me in so many aspects of my life. I am immensely grateful for him and wish that I was not writing this yet (or honestly, even at all).

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My thoughts and prayers go out to the Bryant family during this difficult time. I can not imagine what they are going through.

Rest in peace, Kobe Bean Bryant.