NBA

Kobe Bryant Dies at 41 Years Old: His Legacy as a Player and, More Importantly, a Person

Josh Elias | January 26th, 2020

Former Los Angeles Laker, NBA Hall of Fame nominee, and five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant has died this morning at the age of 41.

A helicopter carrying Bryant, his daughter Gianna, Orange County College baseball coach John Altobelli, Altobelli’s wife Keri, and Altobelli’s daughter Alyssa, as well as Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester and the pilot Ara Zoboyan, crashed in Calabasas, California at 10:01 A.M. Pacific Time. “Unfortunately there were no survivors,” Los Angeles Fire Captain Tony Imbrenda told reporters at the initial press conference.

The helicopter that crashed was a Sikorsky S-76B with a registration number of N72EX. It was registered to Bryant.

The NBPA released a statement that read “We are stunned and devastated by the news of the sudden passing of Kobe Bryant. Words cannot express his impact on our Players, the NBA, and the game of basketball. This is a monumental loss for the entire basketball community and our hearts are quite simply broken. We send love and prayers out to his wife Vanessa and the entire family.”

The FAA and NTSB are investigating the situation.

Bryant holds countless accolades, including five NBA Championships, two NBA Finals MVPs, one NBA MVP, 18 NBA All-Star appearances, 11 All-NBA First Team honors, and nine All-Defensive First Team honors.

He inspired countless kids – both within and outside of basketball – with his game as well as his competitive personality, popularly dubbed “Mamba Mentality”.

When I grew up, Kobe Bryant was basketball. Every time I played, whenever someone hit a tough shot, they’d yell out “Kobe!” He was transcendent as both a player and a person.

I can attest to how great he was as a player. He was the only opponent I was scared to see the team I support face off against. I’m sure that applies to you too, no matter who you are – unless you’re a Lakers fan, in which case you were lucky enough to be able to support him wholeheartedly, and in which case I want to give you my utmost sympathies today.

As great as he was as a player, he was so much more than that. More than anything, Bryant was proud of being a father to his four daughters. The way that he publicly connected with his daughter Gianna over their shared love of basketball made hearts melt throughout the sports world.

I can’t personally attest to how great he was as a person. For that, I’ll hand the keys over to some of his peers in the NBA community.

Michael Jordan – “I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing. Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. I loved Kobe – he was like a little brother to me. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much. He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force. Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply – and took pride in his daughter’s love for the game of basketball. Yvette joins me in sending my deepest condolences to Vanessa, the Lakers organization, and basketball fans around the world.”

Evan Turner – “Most people will remember you for your tenacity, all your unreal feats, and being the Black Mamba. But I’ll always remember you for taking time out your day when you seen me to ask how I was doing and how my mother was doing, as well. Things like this never makes sense and I don’t want to accept it but I’ll always remember you to be a genuine soul that lived with no ceilings. Thank you, Kobe.”

Shaquille O’Neal – “Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gigi was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me’Arah.”

Shareef O’Neal – “You’ve really been there for me all 20 years of my life… been there for me since I was born… love you.”

Jamal Crawford – “Whatever it was you did, football, basketball, soccer, acting, whatever. Kobe inspired you to do better…”

Mark Cuban – “We can never forget how precious life is. How those who are special to you and never let them forget how deeply you love them.”

Thaddeus Young – “Today, we lost one of the realest to ever do it. Sad to see you go. Happy to be apart of one of your biggest passing MJ in scoring. All respect to the Black Mamba! Fly high my brother.”

Royce White – “All respect for Kobe Bryant. I remember when he told the Nike campers… “I don’t have workouts, I have blackouts.” He was truly the last of a dying breed. His competitiveness and attention to detail was unmatched. We ALL need more Kobe in us. Prayers for his family. RIP!”

Steve Nash – “My heart is broken for Kobe and his family. I’ll never forget the battles but what I really admired was the father he was to his girls. Rest In Peace old friend with your angel Gianna.”

Magic Johnson – “My friend, a legend, husband, father, son, brother, Oscar winner and greatest Laker of all-time is gone. It’s hard to accept. Kobe was a leader of our game, a mentor to both male and female players.”

In 2018, Bryant was a good samaritan at the scene of a car crash in Newport Beach. Here’s the victim of the crash, Ryan Williams’ account of Bryant:

“Sept. 2018: Kobe witnessed someone crash into me at 65mph. He ran to my car. He helped. Most of all, he was kind. A week later, he saw my family at Starbucks. He told my wife how lucky I was to be alive. From that time on, whenever we’d see him in Newport Coast, he continued to be kind. A fist bump to my son… a high five to my daughter… a word of wisdom to me. Six months ago, he needed an assistant and I was asked if I knew anyone. One of ours joined him. Every chance he got, he’d tell me “Cate is great!” He’d literally roll down his window at a stoplight just to tell me that… including yesterday. A month ago, we witnessed another accident in the neighborhood. Kobe consoled each and every person on the scene, especially the kids. He was kind to them like he was kind to me. I will remember him for being legendary on the court. But more than anything, I will remember him for being kind… to me, to my family and to so many friends in our community. He was driven beyond measure and that drive didn’t stop on the court. Kobe was a legend of a human. Today’s news is absolutely devastating. My heart and prayers go out to the whole Bryant family, everyone at Kobe Inc. and all the others involved in this unthinkable tragedy.”

At The Scorecrow, our hearts and prayers go out to the Bryant family and all of the others affected as well. Rest in Power Mamba. Rest in Power Gigi. Rest in Power John. Rest in Power Keri. Rest in Power Alyssa. Same goes to all the deceased who haven’t yet been named.

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