The recent tragedy of the helicopter crash that killed nine, including NBA legend, Kobe Bryant, and his daughter, shook the world. Not only did basketball fans and players mourn the loss of the icon, but people from all walks of life expressed their condolences. Bryant’s legacy will continue to live on through the way he changed the game of basketball as well as his status as a global icon.
Bryant’s passion and dedication to his craft made him stand out as an elite player from the time he entered the NBA. After being drafted by the Charlotte Hornets and traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1996 NBA draft, he became the youngest player to start at 18 years old. By his second year in the league, he was named an All-Star, a title he earned 18 times in his 20-year career.
Bryant soon became the league’s rising superstar. His explosive dunks and signature fade away enamored fans. His mentality as a fierce competitor earned him respect from veterans across the league. Alongside Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant won three straight NBA Finals and solidify his status as one of the best in the game.
Bryant continued to compete at an elite level for the rest of his career. He became the scoring champion for two straight years, averaging an incredible 35.4 points per game in the 2005-2006 season. That season, he scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, which became one of the most memorable performances in NBA history. He went on to win two more championships and earn the MVP award in 2008. His dominance lasted until his very last game in 2016 when he scored 60 points in front of a sold out crowd in Staples Center.
Bryant’s career meant so much more than his 33,643 career points and multiple records. He inspired a generation of kids to follow their dreams. He became a Los Angeles legend for 20 years and maintained his celebrity status even in retirement.
Bryant’s active role as a father to his four daughters earned him the respect of people around the world. He coached and mentored his 13-year old daughter, Gianna, who had professional basketball aspirations. Through his coaching involvement in his daughter’s team, he became a leading advocate for women’s sports.
The amount of respect around Bryant is reflective of the impact that he had beyond basketball. People paid homage by making tributes and memorials, ranging from a shrine outside the Staples Center to a mural on a court in the Philippines. Players like Jahlil Okafor and Quinn Cook changed their number in honor of Kobe and many others vowed to retire his numbers. Thousands of fathers shared pictures with their daughters online, tagged with #girldad, respecting Bryant’s pride in his role as a father of four daughters.
While the world continues to mourn the sudden loss of an icon, Bryant’s legacy will continue to live on through the many people he impacted, reminding the world that legends are forever.