by Charlie Pentland and Brooke Killgore
Millions of people all over the world were shocked to hear about the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant. He was included with nine others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, which tragically included his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant and seven other victims. Marked by some as one of the most devastating days in sports history, Kobe left behind an undeniable, international legacy across all those who knew the name and even the ones that didn’t.
Many are left behind to remember the NBA legend. Included in the bunch is Michael Wood, a freshman at Las Lomas High School. When asked about Kobe’s impact and legacy on the world, he responded with, “I think Kobe developed the Mamba Mentality…” This famous phrase can mean something different to everyone, but it connects to everyone on the same basis. Kobe Bryant was known for his on-court toughness and focus, paired with his unnaturally good work ethic and passion for basketball, helped make him into the man he was. The Mamba Mentality was an idea, a mindset, that everyone admired but few could replicate.
Wood said, “When he got into the gym, he wasn’t messing around… he was working to get him and his teammates better.” Wood is on the freshman basketball team at Las Lomas, and displays the number 24 on his jersey, venerating the late NBA star, “Kobe was kind of my idol growing up, I always was like striving to be him whenever I played basketball and I guess I never knew how much he really meant to me… I’ve been trying to develop my game to be more like Kobe.”
To others, Kobe shaped the way their way of life and their personalities, including Junior Rose Morse, who plays on the Varsity Girls Basketball team. She remembers Kobe as “Someone who had, like the confidence and I always wish I had confidence like him to be able to go onto the court and like just do my thing and be able to you know dominate.” Morse had just recently passed over 1,000 points in her basketball career, with the Las Lomas Basketball Instagram page congratulating her on and said, “your hard work and success on and off the court” Morse continues to push herself at the game, and said “Even though it seems like you’re taking over the game and people are calling you a ball hog, you’re still like gonna carry your team through whatever you can get to win.” But Kobe’s legacy went far beyond just a basketball player; he was seen as a great role model in the African American community, as he often participated in the NBA Cares initiative. This organization features NBA stars, who participate in helping educate the newer generations of our country. Fresh off a 2009 NBA championship with the Lakers, Kobe brought along fellow teammates to the Boys and Girls Club of Washington D.C, playing games and reading books to the kids.
Those who gain fame know it does not come without consequences. During 2003, Bryant was charged with sexual assault, causing his inner life to begin falling apart. Bryant was soon released with no charges pressed, but the NBA legend strived to win back the trust and love of not just his fans, but his family as well. He started to apply more emphasis on women’s basketball and other sports, including volleyball. ESPN basketball writer Rachel Nichols, who was very close with the late Bryant, stated, “Kobe was not a saint… We don’t need him to have been. But after he would make mistakes he would take time, not immediately assume he was right, and reconcile what he did.” Kobe was human. He set examples of making mistakes and being determined to be better after them. The writer of BleacherReport, Brandon Ribak noted on Kobe’s personality during a match between the Houston Rockets and The Lakers, “A true role model can show off his success and say whatever he wants if he is backing up his performance.”
Number 24 has undoubtedly left a huge reminder across the world that life ends unexpectedly, even to those we want to live forever. Bryant leaves behind a legacy for almost everyone to appreciate, a story for the people who feel speechless, confident, scared, proud, and worthless, Bryant gave a voice to many who couldn’t speak for themselves. He put time and effort into commemorating the importance of women’s sports while serving as a role model for all aspiring athletes. He sits in the hearts of all people, including ones in our own community and schools. Wood ended with a nod to Bryant, “It just shows how skilled they are and how good of a work ethic they had…. It makes you want to strive to be better in your own life as well.”