Kobe “Bean” Bryant! What an impact he had on my life, growing up and playing the beautiful game of basketball. Kobe showed me a different kind of love for the game I love to play. It was one thing for my father to motivate me to be the best player I can be, but to witness the way Kobe Bryant outworked every single competitor was amazing.
Kobe was so special to me that his number eight basketball jersey was the first jersey I owned. I even loved how he wore his hair when he had an afro and his nickname was “frobe,” which gave me the confidence to have a similar hairstyle growing up. Kobe also had a big influence on the sneaker market for basketball shoes, which as a kid I always wanted. Unfortunately, I did not receive my first pair of Kobe’s until my senior year of high school. To this day, even if I am playing recreationally, I will not play basketball in any other shoe besides his. The way he designed his shoes from the colorways to the framework and weight of the shoe is honestly perfect.
One principle that Kobe installed in me was the #MAMBAMENTALITY, which only a rare breed of people have. This mentality is when you have a passion and vision for a certain craft and continue to work hard at it to be successful. The mamba mentality isn’t just for basketball, but for any goal or vision you set your mind to. Kobe helped motivate an entire generation to reach for the stars and do the impossible.
One of the last things I want to talk about is what Kobe did after he retired from the NBA. He wrote and published books, became a phenomenal philanthropist, created the Mamba Academy for athletes of all sports, and was a great example for fatherhood. Out of everything Kobe did, being a great father stood out to me above the other things he accomplished.
The unfortunate circumstance that happened on January 26th will never be forgotten, not just for the basketball community, but for the entire world. Kobe Bryant was a once in a lifetime man, and I don’t think we will see another like him for a while unless someone perfects the mamba mentality. There will be a memorial service at the Staples Center on February 24th to honor Kobe, Gigi and the other seven people who lost their lives.