Camden Streifel

Kobe Bryant was so much more than a basketball player; he was an inspiration (Photo courtesy of Camden Streifel).

Kobe. When you hear this name, many things may flash through your head, including legend, star, hero, MVP, GOAT, father, husband, friend, enemy, competitor, and so many more. Kobe Bean Bryant, unfortunately, passed away on January 26, 2020, in a helicopter accident. Although we may have lost him physically, he will always be with us no matter what. We should not remember Kobe for what happened to him, but for what he did for the world.

Bryant was born on August 23, 1978, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to his parents, Joe and Pam Bryant, but he quickly moved to Italy, so his dad could continue playing professional basketball. While living there, he began to grow as an elite basketball player, and he only came back to the United States for the summers to play in summer basketball leagues. The Bryant family moved back to Philadelphia when he was 13 where Kobe attended high school at Lower Merion. In the four years there, he played varsity basketball and was extremely dominant. In high school, he averaged 31.1 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 5.2 assists. He also won Pennsylvania Player of the Year. Due to this, he was a highly sought after player by many colleges, but he decided to forgo college and enter the National Basketball Association (NBA) draft.

In the 1996 NBA draft, Kobe Bryant was the 13th pick by the Charlotte Hornets who traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers for Vlade Divac. From the very start, Kobe was a menace. After three years playing in the NBA, Kobe and the Lakers were forming an unbreakable bond because in those three years Kobe won his first NBA Championship with the Lakers. He then helped them to another one the following year. He won another after that meaning led the Lakers to a three-peat alongside Shaqiulle O’Neal. 

After the three-peat, Kobe Bryant went on to make eight all-defensive teams, ten all NBA teams, and thirteen All Star Games while winning four All Star MVPs. He also won two NBA MVPs and was an NBA champion two more times which brought his total to five. Kobe impacted the NBA more than anyone would’ve thought. He showed no fear in any challenge that he faced like being the best player on an NBA championship team or overcoming multiple server injuries including one to his back and an ACL tear. At the end of his career, Kobe Bryant ranked fourth overall among all NBA players in total points scored, and he is regarded as a top-three player to ever play in the NBA.

Bryant wasn’t only an All-Star basketball player, but he was an All-Star dad and husband. Kobe was a father to four daughters and married to his wife, Vanessa. Whether Kobe was teaching them how to play basketball or spending time by the pool, Bryant was always a family man. He cared for his family deeply, and it showed people what it’s like to be a father and husband.

“He was a great family man… he impacted a lot of people around me,” said senior Kaitlyn Runzel.

Kobe Bryant always wanted to lead by example and show people how to be a leader in their community, not a follower. He took pride in caring for others and showing them that they can achieve their dreams even if it isn’t basketball-related.

“Kobe impacted my life both on and off the court. There was always something special about watching his highlights, but what he would do for the community and how he affected so many people in a positive way,” said senior Zach Laird.

Bryant not only impacted the NBA from a statistical standpoint, but he impacted millions of people around the world. Bryant is the reason why many people even picked up a basketball. He ran basketball camps and inspired people to live life the way they want. He helped people learn the Mamba Mentality which teaches people to persevere through any obstacles to become the best version of themselves. He also ran a foundation called Vivo in which he helped promote education to those in financial need. Kobe’s unselfish behavior demonstrated what it meant to be a superstar person, not a superstar athlete.

“He shows that Mamba Mentality on the court, but he really set an example for young men and young basketball players,” said senior Zach Laird.

When Kobe passed, you could see all the outpouring love people had for him throughout the world. Whether it was in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, or the Philippines, so many people demonstrated their love for him. Perhaps the coolest sights to see are all the memorials people created in his memory. In Los Angeles, thousands gathered outside Staples Center where the Lakers play to pay their respects and brought flowers to remember him. It has also been reported that the Lakers will now use the flowers to create compost to spread around the stadium. In the Philippines, it is not uncommon to see basketball courts now painted with images of Kobe Bryant. Kobe impacted millions of people around the world including some Brashier students.

“It made me appreciate basketball more but more importantly, it made me appreciate the time I have with my friends and family more,” said senior Alex Ross.

“He was one of the first basketball players that I really even knew about as a kid and one of the first who even got me to watch the NBA in the first place. Also, the first shoes that I bought with my own money were the Kobe “Draft Day” 11s,” said senior Donovan Springle.As you can tell, some of them didn’t play a sport, but Kobe still inspired them. Although Kobe is gone, he will never be forgotten. As LeBron James said, “In the words of Kobe, Mamba out, but in the words of us. Not forgotten.”