Remembering Kobe Bryant


Photos by Antonio Valle- Reporter

Paying tribute: Grieving fans are remembering Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant at Mamba Sports Academy, with flowers, balloons and letters left by many fans to the late great Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant.

Antonio Valle, Reporter

Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Maria Onore Bryant were among the nine people killed in a helicopter that crashed on its way to Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park on Sunday, Jan. 26. 

“It really hit home, it was a tragedy all around. Being a kid from L.A., literally watching his whole career since he was a freshman in high school, we all sat and daydreamed in class about being that 17 year old playing in the NBA,” said Jay, longtime Lakers fan. “Everything that he has done in his career, I am more inspired to be the father that he was.”

Bryant came into the National Basketball Association as a 17 year old from Lower Merion High School just outside of Philadelphia. He led his high school to a state championship in his senior season, and that summer was drafted 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets. He was traded that night to the Los Angeles Lakers where he spent 20 years and had a legendary career. 

He then became known as one of the greatest basketball players of all-time, as a 4th all-time ‘point leader,’ NBA MVP, five-time NBA Champion, 18-time NBA All-Star, and a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist.

Throughout his career, he garnered the nickname “Black Mamba.” He created this nickname to separate his professional and personal life, Bryant said in the documentary “Muse.” Bryant also said his alter-ego helped him  get through the lowest point of his career. 

Many of his teammates and coaches, including former NBA player and Lakers teammate John Celestand, described Kobe Bryant as the first person to enter the gym and the last one to leave.

Bryant was not only a basketball player, but an academy award winner, author, mentor for young kids, advocate for women’s basketball, and most of all, a father. Including Gianna Bryant, Kobe Bryant and his wife Vanessa Bryant have four daughters, Natalia, Bianka and Capri. 

Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant’s lives are remembered all over the world, especially in Los Angeles. There are memorials and murals all around, most notably at the Lakers Practice Facility in El Segundo, and the Mamba Sports Academy in Newbury Park. 

Cal Lutheran student Austin Gregory, who has officiated games at Mamba Sports Academy, said he is a longtime basketball fan. 

“Kobe is one of those athletes that had a monumental impact on the game of basketball,” Gregory said. “I stand behind the league retiring both the no. 8 and no. 24 [jersey]. I know how much potential his daughter had and I know a lot of officials that watched her games and they would tell me how good of a basketball player she is and how good of a coach Kobe is,” Gregory said. 

Alex, a fan of Bryant, visited Mamba Sports Academy with his son following the fatal accident. He said he applies ‘Mamba Mentality’ to help his son. 

“I first started watching Kobe in 1997, I have been a Lakers fan since my dad would take me to games at The Forum,” Alex said. “I take a lot of his Mamba Mentality and use that to my son so that when he grows up he can use that tenacity that Kobe had.”  

Athletes around the globe have paid tribute to Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant by wearing their jerseys or shoes. 

Trae Young, point guard of the Atlanta Hawks, was Gianna Bryant’s favorite player and said he and Kobe Bryant built a strong friendship. 

“We wanted to play for him and Gigi and go out and play hard and have that Mamba Mentality. We were starting to build a really good friendship and his daughter is a really big fan of mine, it’s just a crazy day to play basketball,” Young said in a post-game interview. 

Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant’s former teammate and a close family friend said the pain he felt after the loss of Kobe Bryant was a type of pain he had not felt in a while. 

“I’ve lost two grandmothers, lost a Sarge, lost my sister, and now I lost a little brother,” O’Neal said in a TNT interview. “The fact that we are not going to be able to joke at his hall of fame ceremony, we’re not going to be able to say ‘ha I got 5, you got 4’, if we could have stayed together we could win 10, those are the things we can’t get back.” 

He and Bryant won three NBA championships together and are known as one of the greatest duos in NBA history, according to Bleacher Report.

Bryant motivates athletes all over the world, making many of his quotes popular, as seen outside Mamba Sports Academy.

“You asked for my hustle, I gave you my heart,” one of the shirts placed down outside Mamba Sports Academy reads.