The Death Of A Legend

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The Death Of A Legend

Hunter King, Staff Member

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The world was shocked on Sunday afternoon when news of a tragic helicopter crash involving nine people was reportedly carrying NBA superstar Kobe Bryant. Among those who died was his 13-year-old daughter Gianna who was traveling with him to a basketball game in Los Angeles. Bryant was known to frequently ride in “Kobe One”, the nickname given to his helicopter, to travel to games when he played, because it greatly reduced the travel time. Kobe, which has become a household name, was 41 years old. 

 

Kobe Bryant grew up a son to Joe Bryant, a former NBA player, and was given the nickname “Bean” derived from his father’s nickname, “Jellybean.” The Bryant family lived in Italy for a short period of time when Kobe was younger, and while Kobe lived there he grew a love for soccer and learned to speak fluent Italian. 

Joe Bryant (facing camera) hugging his son Kobe (facing away from camera) following a game.

When Kobe attended high school at Lower Merion High School, he started catching the eyes of many college and NBA scouts. Kobe was highly influenced by Kevin Garnett’s decision to enter the NBA directly from high school and a year later announced he would do just that.

 

In the 1996 draft, General Manager of the Lakers in ‘96, Jerry West worked out a deal with the Charlotte Hornets to trade the 13th pick to the Lakers. According to the Winston-Salem Journal, the Hornets never would’ve thought about drafting Kobe, but Jerry West wanted Kobe so they drafted him and traded him to the Lakers. 

Kobe Bryant (left) shaking former NBA Commissioner David Stern’s hand (right) at the 1996 NBA Draft.

Kobe began making waves early in his career with the Lakers and proved that he was NBA ready. At the time, Kobe was the youngest player to ever play an NBA game at 18 years, 158 days old and still the youngest ever to win the NBA dunk contest in 1997. 

 

Many experts of the game say some of the best attributes about Kobe’s game was his tough defense, vertical leap, and ability to score winning baskets at the end of the game. Those qualities racked up enormous amounts of milestones. Kobe was an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team, the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player, and up until the night before his death was 3rd in all-time points scored by an NBA player. LeBron James, just a few hours before his death, passed him on the list and Kobe’s last tweet was to congratulate James on passing him on the list. 

Kobe Bryant posing behind his five Larry O’Brien Championship Trophies.

Kobe was known in his post-NBA career to be a family man and was a strong supporter of the WNBA. Gianna Bryant, Kobe’s daughter who was also a victim, was hailed as the “next Kobe.” Heartwarming videos of the two talking courtside at an NBA game just a few weeks ago was shared all over social media with one person tweeting out “This will never be the same…”

 

Celebrities, athletes, and politicians around the world shared their condolences on different platforms. Alicia Keys, who hosted the Grammys at the Staples Center last night, said: “We’re literally standing here heartbroken in the house that Kobe Bryant built.” 

Gianna Bryant (left) with her father Kobe (right) at an NBA game.

For many, Kobe was a legend, and quotes like “Heroes come and go, but legends never die,” were shared yesterday. Going forward, many want his life to be celebrated rather than something that brings sadness. Kobe and Gianna are survived by Kobe’s wife Vanessa and daughters Natalie, 17, Bianca, two, and Capri, who is just 17 weeks old.