The world was devastated to wake up to tragic news that National Basketball Association (NBA) legend and retired 18-time All-Star Kobe Bryant died at the age of 41 due to a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. What made it much worse, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Maria-Onore (“Gigi”), was also among the casualties with seven other passengers, including the pilot. They boarded in Orange County and traveled for Gianna’s basketball game. The helicopter crashed on a foggy hillside and burst into flames, killing everyone aboard.
Kobe Bryant was indeed one of the greatest basketball players, having won five league championships during a twenty-year career spent entirely with the Los Angeles Lakers. He also inspired and influenced basketball players—and fans—all over the world, including the Philippines. No wonder why everyone is mourning and deeply saddened. Netizens, fans, athletes, and other public figures expressed their love and sorrow as they remember the legacy of the Black Mamba.
Everyone grew up yelling “Kobe!” whenever they threw something, as if it were a basketball—even kids nowadays still do that. Even if you haven’t done it yourself, for sure you’ve witnessed that. It became a tradition, especially for basketball enthusiasts and fans, and their only wish is to never stop doing it, never let that tradition die. His personal philosophy, “The Mamba Mentality”, serves as an inspiration to many people. For Kobe, it was an approach to life that required extreme focus, discipline, and enthusiasm that was based on everything he had been through in his career. He summed up Mamba Mentality in an interview during his visit in Manila: it means trying to be the best version of yourself. Mamba Mentality is a constant quest to try to be better today than you were yesterday. People strongly admired Kobe for proving that hard work creates champions, believing in the value of family, using sports to strengthen the youth not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally, advocating for women’s sports, and bringing sports to kids around the world. That’s the impact of the Black Mamba that will never be forgotten. Gianna also proved that she could continue her father’s legacy and was nicknamed “Mambacita.” Her compassion, talent, and hard work were adored by many. She was definitely a great athlete, similar to her coach and father.
Filipinos consider Kobe Bryant as the most beloved basketball superstar. He visited the country several times, first in 1998 while his last was in 2016 for his Mamba Mentality Tour, courtesy of Nike. Filipino fans, basketball players, and other athletes showered him with love during his stay in Manila. Different basketball players from the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), and more were greatly influenced and inspired by his passion, determination, style, defense, mental approach, attitude, and in so many aspects.
It is still hard to comprehend, but, one thing for sure, his legacy will be dearly remembered forever. Deepest condolences to Vanessa Bryant and her children, and to the families of the other casualties. Rest in power, Kobe, Gianna, and the rest of the passengers.
Are you a fan of Kobe Bryant? How did he inspire or influence you?