By: Walker Speer
It’s been almost two weeks since the world seemed to stand still with the news that basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others died in a helicopter crash in California. The names of the other victims are John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan. All were on their way to the Mamba Sports Academy for a girls’ basketball tournament. Gianna, Alyssa, and Payton were teammates on a team coached by Kobe Bryant and Christina Mauser.
The sports world paid tribute to the victims throughout the following week. NBA and some NCAA teams took a 24 and/or 8 second violation in honor of Kobe’s two numbers he wore while in the NBA. The Lakers played their first game after the tragic event the following Friday against the Portland Trailblazers. Before tip-off, an emotional tribute to the lives lost was held with Usher singing Amazing Grace, Boyz II Men singing the national anthem, and Lebron James giving a very emotional speech at center court. Around the league, Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, released a statement that the Dallas Mavericks organization will retire the number 24 jersey in honor of Kobe. Many fans have called for the NBA to change the logo to a silhouette of Kobe. The NBA All-Star game will have a built-in honor to Kobe with a twist ending honoring his number 24 and both teams will wear jerseys with the 24 or 8 in his honor.
Many that were close with Kobe have all stated that he (Kobe) wanted to be known more for what he did outside of basketball. Kobe won an Oscar last year for his short film “Dear Basketball”, he also seemed to be the happiest when spending time with his family, especially his daughter Gianna. Kobe had stated that he really had no reason to return to the Staples Center, home of the Lakers, but his daughter Gianna’s interest in basketball brought him back into the sports world. Kobe and Gianna could often be seen at UCONN women’s basketball games or at the Staples Center for Lakers and Sparks games. Gianna was honored by UCONN before their scrimmage with the USA Women’s National team with a UCONN jersey with the number 2 on it placed on a chair on the bench with flowers, Gianna wanted to play for the Huskies when she got older. In retirement, Kobe had become a very vocal supporter of Women in sports and youth sports. Whenever he was at an NBA game with his daughter, he was usually wearing an WNBA hoodie. To many, the passing of the nine victims was a tragic reminder how tomorrow is never a guarantee.
Thank you, Kobe, for showing a generation what true work ethic is and inspiring us to work for our dreams. Thank you for showing a kid from Richmond what it takes to overcome what seems impossible, and for showing the world what it means to have the mamba mentality.
You can donate to the Mamba Sports Foundation and the MambaOnThree Fund in the victim’s honor using these links.