Regarded as one of the greatest professional basketball players of all time… Kobe Bryant! A legend on and off the court! Calling himself “The Black Mamba” which he adopted from the film ‘Kill Bill’ as a code name for a deadly assassin. Bryant said, “When I step on that court, I become that. I am that killer snake” (Lee, 2020).
Rewind back to 1996:
The Charlotte Hornets chose Bryant in the NBA draft, but it was short-lived as he was traded by The Los Angeles Lakers and became the second youngest NBA player in history for the 1996-1997 season (Britannica 2023). Kobe’s loyalty and love for the Lakers was unbelievable as he spent TWENTY seasons with them (Mamba Out, n.d.). From entering the NBA at only eighteen years old, the awards kept on stacking up and he made his mark on the game.
His Most Noteworthy Achievements:
• Five-time NBA champion (2000, 2001, 2002, 2009, 2010)
• Seventeen-time NBA All Star (An All-Star basketball game is played every February and showcases 24 of the league’s star players)
• Two-time NBA final MVP (Most Valuable Player - 2009, 2010)
• Two Olympic Gold medals (Team USA – 2009, 2010)
(Mamba Out, n.d.)
Not only did Kobe achieve all of this on the basketball court, off the court he and his devoted wife Vanessa Bryant were raising their children, Natalia, Gianna, Bianka and Capri. Although, his passion for basketball was one of the important things to Bryant, the thing that gave him the most joy was being with his family (OutCast Motivation, 2022).
Tragically, on January 26th, 2020, Kobe Bryant, and his daughter Gianna (Gigi) Bryant died in a helicopter crash along with 7 other passengers. The news shocked the world and the legendary six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan said, “When Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died” (Tucker, n.d.).
A public memorial happened on 24th February 2020 at the Staples Center (now known as the Crypto Arena) to celebrate Kobe and Gigi’s life. 80,000 people applied to go and pay their respects and over 20,000 people attended (Beacham, 2020). The memorial service included some of the biggest names in women’s basketball because of Gigi’s involvement. Of course, the Lakers’ likes of Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, Phil Jackson, Jerry West, Rick Fox, Lebron James alongside other famous basketball players attended. Even Beyonce, Alicia Keys, and Christina Aguilera sang heartfelt performances at the service (NYTIMES, 2020). It was the first-time Vanessa Bryant spoke publicly since the crash and her speech was both emotional and powerful. She said, “God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other” (NYTIMES, 2020). Vanessa was incredibly brave, and her strength was apparent on screen.
To see her speech… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_Myud-0WjE
To watch the full memorial… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW9pitIu8aw
Justice for Kobe and Gigi:
Disturbingly, members of the county’s fire and sheriff’s department invaded the Bryant’s privacy by releasing photographs of the crash that killed nine people including Kobe and Gigi Bryant. Justice was being called for and it finally happened on 24th August 2022. A jury awarded $16 million dollars in damages to Vanessa Bryant (Rosenbloom, A. Chung, G, 2022).
Vanessa posted on her Instagram: “All for you. I love you! JUSTICE for Kobe and Gigi”. Coincidently, in 2016, 24th August became Kobe Bryant Day as a nod to the two jersey numbers (24 and 8) he wore during his time at the Lakers (CNBCTV18, 2022).
What is the Mamba Mentality?
Trying to be the best version of yourself. Kobe described it as a constant quest to try to bebetter today than you were yesterday (Tailor, 2020). It’s about work ethic, dedication, and passion. Kobe believed that ‘hard work outweighs talent everytime” (Outcast Motivation, 2022). Whether you’re an athlete or not if you embrace that mindset, you will have achieved the Mamba Mentality. Everybody has a goal and his was ‘to be one of the best basketball players who have ever played’ (Outcast Motivation, 2022).
Anyone can have their opinions and I believe the Mamba Mentality is what made him one of the best basketball players. Having listened to his words, this mentality has changed my whole perspective on life. Through my hardest times, I would ask myself what would Kobe do? Bryant has left powerful messages that are still relevant, inspirational, and motivational.
A motivational quote from Kobe:
“Everybody’s box is different. My box was to be extremely ambitious within the sport of basketball. Your box is different to mine. It doesn’t mean your box isn’t as beautiful as mine. It doesn’t mean you have to go out there and do all of those crazy things.” (Outcast Motivation, 2022)
The Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation:
A non-profit organisation, founded through the visions and loving memory of Kobe and Gigi. The foundation provides funding to underserved athletes to enable participation in school and enrich socio-emotional and physical development. (Mamba & Mambacita Sport Foundation, 2022). Kobe believed that “children are our future” and our focus should be on them (Outcast Motivation, 2022). His and Gigi’s vision was “to create a world where boys and girls haveequal opportunity to pursue their dreams through sport and life” (Mamba & Mambacita Sport Foundation, 2022). The foundation continues to build basketball courts across USA for young children and there’s more to come in 2023. Vanessa and her family are very much involved in the foundation to keep Kobe and Gigi’s legacy alive.
In the words of Kobe Bryant, “Mamba Out”.
In our words, “Mamba Forever”.
Written by Beth Nethercott
ABC News. (2020, February 24). Kobe and Gianna Bryant Remembered at Los Angeles Memorial Service l ABC News Live. [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW9pitIu8aw
Beacham, G. (2020, February 25). Public memorial service remembers the private Kobe Bryant. APNews. https://apnews.com/article/us-news-ap-top-news-sports-general-basketball-music-93e2635799ce7f07c9bc63e6f3f8c144
Britannica. (2023, January 22). Kobe Bryant | Biography, Stats & Facts. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Kobe-Bryant
CBS Sports. (2020, February 24). Vanessa Bryant shares powerful, emotional words at Kobe and Gianna Bryant Memorial | CBS Sports HQ. [Video]. Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_Myud-0WjE
CNBCTV18. (2022, August 24). Kobe Bryant Day: History, significance & interesting facts about the NBA legend. https://www.cnbctv18.com/sports/kobe-bryant-day-history-significance-interesting-facts-about-nba-legend-14571022.htm
Lee, A. (2020, January 27). Why Kobe Bryant gave himself the nickname ‘Black Mamba’. CNN edition. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/01/27/us/black-mamba-kobe-bryant-spt-trnd/index.html
Mamba & Mambacita Sport Foundation. (2022). Mamba & Mambacita Sport Foundation. https://mambaandmambacita.org/#mission
Mamba Out. (n.d.). Kobe's Career Achievements. https://mambaout.com/achievements.html
NYTIMES. (2020). Kobe Bryant Memorial: Full Coverage of the Tributes at Staples Center.https://www.nytimes.com/live/2020/kobe-bryant-memorial-02-24
Outcast Motivation. (2022, April 3). 30 Minutes That Will Change Your Perspective on Life | Kobe Bryant Motivation (Greatest Speech Ever). [Video.] Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FyIrWtgOUoo
Rosenbloom, A. Chung, G. (2022, August 25). Vanessa Bryant Speaks Out About "Justice" After Verdict in Kobe Bryant Crash Photos Lawsuit. EOnline. https://www.eonline.com/news/1343438/vanessa-bryant-speaks-out-about-justice-after-verdict-in-kobe-bryant-crash-photos-lawsuit
Tailor, L. (2020, August 24). Kobe Bryant Day: What ‘Mamba Mentality’ Meant in His Own Words. ETonline. https://www.etonline.com/kobe-bryant-day-what-mamba-mentality-meant-in-his-own-words-140424
Tucker, H (n.d.). Bryant memorial: Read Michael Jordan's complete speech. USA Today Sports. https://eu.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2020/02/24/michael-jordan-speech-kobe-bryant-memorial/4860574002/