Remembering Mamba

On June 26, 1996 the game of basketball was forever changed when a wide eyed 17-year old kid by the name of Kobe Bryant was drafted 13th overall by the Hornets, and was later traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he would spend his entire career in purple and gold. 

Kobe was truly a master at his craft. In his 20 years in the NBA Kobe was a five-time NBA Champion, two-time Finals MVP, 18-time All-Star, and two time Gold medalist, but his greatest achievement was being a father. 

Being a professional athlete can be one of the most demanding jobs, and the travel aspect of it can put a lot of stress on a family, but for Kobe family came before basketball. “Christmas morning, I’m going to open presents with my kids. I’m going to take pictures of them opening their presents. Then I’m going to come to the Staples Center and get ready to work,” said Kobe.  Any free time he had he spent with his wife and children, whether it was going out for a family dinner or putting up a couple shots with his 13 year old daughter Gianna who loved the game of basketball as much as her father. 

When the news of Kobe Bryant’s death came out it felt like the world sort of stopped. I was never a die hard fan, but Kobe was bigger than the game of basketball, and people knew that. Kobe inspired millions of people, not just athletes, but real people all across the world. For me a person who was the caliber of Kobe seemed to be indestructible, he was truly the closest thing to Superman, and it’s difficult to realize that he’s gone. 

Some more tragic news came later Sunday when it was released that Kobe’s daughter Gianna was on the helicopter that day on her way to a basketball tournament with fellow teammate, Alysa Altobeli and her parents. 

As the news spread, so did the condolences from celebrities and fans all across the world, but one of the most heartfelt came from Shaquille O’Neal, who was a former teammate of Kobe. “The fact that we’re not going to be able to joke at his Hall of Fame ceremony. The fact that we’re not going to be able to say ‘Ha ha, got five. You got four.’ The fact that we’re not going to be able to say ‘If we would have stayed together we could of had ten,’ those are the things we can’t get back,” said Shaq.

For all the NBA games this week there have been moments of silence to honor Kobe, including some teams that took 24 second shot clock violations to show their respects. Players all across the country wrote heartfelt messages on their shoes before their games, including some here at Bellwood-Antis, but some of the athletes in the NBA who previously wore the number 8 or 24 have switched to other numbers in honor of the late Kobe Bryant. 

Since Sunday the price of both Kobe’s jerseys and signature shoes have skyrocketed. Jerseys are now up to $300, almost doubling in price, and his shoes are in the thousands. A lot of shoe stores are refusing to purchase or sell Kobe shoes at a higher price than what they were before his death. Jaysse Lopez is the founder of a multi-million dollar company called Urban Necessities. Lopez made a statement saying that the store would refuse to raise its prices in the wake of the basketball stars death. “Not how I built my brand or how I need to make a dollar,” said Lopez in a comment on his decision. 

All of those who were lost in the tragic accident will be dearly missed, and we all keep them and their loved ones in our thoughts and prayers.