On Jan. 26, the world received a big shock. One of basketball’s greats, Kobe Bryant, passed away at the age of 41 due to a helicopter crash in California.
I was at home for the weekend helping my mom fold laundry when I heard the news.
I quickly googled Bryant’s name. The crazy thing is that a few hours earlier I was reading about Lebron James breaking Bryant’s record.
James became the third-highest scorer in NBA history while wearing a Lakers jersey, Bryant’s team. When I searched Bryant’s name again and got through the James articles, I was immediately speechless.
I stopped what I was doing and initially couldn’t form any words. My mom asked me what was wrong and I softly spoke to her, “Kobe died.” She knew the best thing she could do at that moment was hug me.
When my dad got home, he had a similar reaction and knew a hug was the best thing he could do. I started playing basketball at a young age, just like my dad, and Bryant was always one of his favorite players. Bryant also had a similar bond with his daughters, so my dad could relate.
There are many great stories about Bryant from players, coaches and sports anchors, but one from Elle Duncan stuck out to me.
Duncan told the story of the one time she met Bryant. She asked him for advice on raising daughters.
According to Duncan, Bryant told her, “Just be grateful that you’ve been given that gift because girls are amazing.”
Bryant recently became a parent to his fourth daughter, Capri Bryant. Something that added to the tragedy of Bryant’s death was the devastation of the helicopter crash. Besides Bryant, it included the death of one of his daughters, Gianna Bryant, as well as seven other victims.
Following Bryant’s death, there was a tribute at the Grammys, as well as a recent Lakers game. Bryant played for the Lakers his entire 20-year career, so this tribute was especially touching.
On Jan. 31, the Lakers packed each seat in the Staples Center with Bryant’s Jersey. This was just the beginning of a night of remembrance.
Along with individual player tributes with basketball moves and jerseys, Usher performed “Amazing Grace,” a video package of Kobe played for the crowd and Lebron James gave an emotional speech.
For those of you who don’t know much about basketball or Bryant, he was arguably one of the greatest of all time. He won five NBA championships and was named an NBA All-Star 18 times.
The NBA All-Star game is also honoring Kobe by changing the setup of the fourth quarter. The new format will turn the shot clock off at the start of the fourth quarter and set up a final target score determined by the leading team’s total points from the three previous quarters.
With the points from the three previous quarters, 24 points will be added. The 24 points represent Bryant’s jersey number.
Before James beat his record, Bryant was the third-highest scoring player in the NBA, only behind Karl Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Bryant retired in 2016 and was the second highest-paid NBA star of all time. He played in over 1,300 regular-season games and averaged 25 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists during his career.
His passing was a true tragedy to many, but his legacy will continue to live on in the NBA and hearts of many.