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Kobe Bryant: a memory lives on

by Paul Cifonelli - Sports Editor
Thu, Feb 6th 2020 05:00 pm
Kobe and Gianna Bryant died on Sunday, Jan. 26,
along with seven other people in a helicopter crash. Since the crash, Kobe's teammates, family and friends have paid tribute to those who had lost their lives in the accident.
Kobe and Gianna Bryant died on Sunday, Jan. 26, along with seven other people in a helicopter crash. Since the crash, Kobe's teammates, family and friends have paid tribute to those who had lost their lives in the accident.

Some people just seem like they will never die. Whether it is because of the wisdom they impart on others, the accomplishments they have achieved or the smiles they put on people’s faces, those people impact many more than just the ones they know. As much as people want this type of person to exist, they do not, and the helicopter crash that took the life of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others was yet another example of that. 

Bryant’s helicopter went down on Sunday, Jan. 26, with eight passengers and a pilot. There were no survivors. The people were identified as Bryant, Gianna, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and Ara Zobayan, according to TMZ. 

The death of both Kobe and Gianna left many people around the world stunned and heartbroken. The Los Angeles Lakers legend left a mark on many people for his fierce competitiveness as a player, work ethic and love for his children. 

Bryant was one of the best players in NBA history, finishing with 33,643 career points, according to NBA. com. That number was third all-time until another current Laker and great friend of Bryant, LeBron James, passed him the day before the fatal crash. Bryant also scored the second-most points in a game ever, netting 81 points against the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 22, 2006. He also won five NBA championships, two Olympic gold medals and an NBA MVP Award. 

In addition to his on-court accomplishments, he was known as a ferocious competitor. His drive to be the best, which became known as “Mamba Mentality,” was an inspiration to many. It is also how some of his peers will remember the Laker legend. 

“His drive to be the best thing he could possibly be and things like that,” NBA legend and current Georgetown men’s basketball coach Patrick Ewing told Fox5 DC. “As a coach, you want your guys to admire people. That’s the work ethic you try to give them, or tell them or show them or talk to them about.” 

While Bryant will be remembered fondly for his playing career, there was one controversial spell early on in his career. According to NBC News, Bryant was accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old hotel employee in Colorado. The official charge against him was rape, but it was dropped because the accuser refused to testify. The accuser then filed a lawsuit against Bryant, which ended in an undisclosed settlement. 

After his playing career was over, Bryant shifted his focus to being a well-rounded individual. His most famous post-basketball achievement was winning an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for his film “Dear Basketball.” According to Bleacher Report, the film was based on a letter he wrote for the Players’ Tribune after deciding to retire. 

Bryant also became a huge advocate for women’s basketball in retirement. As a father of four girls and a self-admitted “girl dad,” Bryant coached a travel basketball team that Gianna and two of the other victims played on. The two were frequently seen at men’s and women’s college and professional basketball games, analyzing, talking and having fun. Oregon stand out Sabrina Ionescu, who became a great friend to both Kobe and Gianna through basketball, took the accident especially hard. 

“Kobe, thank you for being a source of light in the midst of darkness,” Ionescu wrote on Instagram. “You were and always will be my sanctuary. You brought me the peace and guidance that I had been searching, and praying so long for. You were my mentor, idol, inspiration and close friend.” 

Ionescu also addressed Gianna, Alyssa and Payton, the girls that played on Bryant’s girls’ basketball team that passed in the crash, in the post. 

“Never stop shining your light,” Ionescu wrote. “I was blessed to have been a part of your lives and to inspire you, but now you inspire me.” 

Most importantly for Bryant, he was a family man in retirement. He was able to put his family first after they sacrificed for him during his playing days. Bryant did everything he could to be the best father for all of his four daughters, Natalia, 17, Gianna, 13, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 1, and the best husband he could be for his wife, Vanessa. 

While people will remember Bryant in any number of ways, his legacy will be carried out by everyone he impacted during his life. 

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Taken by Vincent Croce:
Staff Photographer

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