On Jan. 26, the world was jolted awake by the death of retired basketball star Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash. While processing Bryant’s death, it was revealed that the other eight passengers passed away, as well, one of which was his 13 year-old daughter, Gianna.
Of course, the basketball world has been hit the hardest by losing not only a brilliant representative of the sport but also his prodigal child, who had seen so little of the world. Loss is never easy, especially when losing one of the greats. But Bryant was so much more than a basketball star, and he was much more than just his stats and his contributions to the game. On and off the court, he was a tour de force.
As a decorated philanthropist, he gave his attention and care to the issues that mattered most to him. Until his death, he was the ambassador for After-School All Stars, a program that provided after school opportunities to over 70,000 inner-city children. In 2018, he became an Oscar winner for the animated short he wrote, “Dear Basketball,” and wrote “Mamba Mentality: How I Play.” In the wake of this tragedy, however, it is important to consider Bryant for the person he was, rather than what he materialized in his lifetime.
To the core, Bryant was a seemingly passionate and caring person, and whether you wanted to be the next Bryant or not, he would have told you to never let anything hold you back and that you can achieve your dreams and aspirations. All it takes is determination and discipline. The world continues to honor him in a multitude of ways, including social media.
In the past weeks, Instagram has blown up with photos urging the public to still shout “Kobe!” when they throw a balled-up paper into a wastebasket. I urge whoever takes the time to read this to do the same. I know that I’ll do my best to keep it alive, but I can’t say if I’ll make the shot or not.
To the basketball fans, the strict Bryant fans and the rest of the world, we must all keep up the tradition of not only shouting ‘Kobe’ in the hopes of perfect accuracy, but also striving for greatness and being the best we can be. Although Bryant has switched off the final light and made his trip to the great gig in the sky, the light of his superlative inspiration and dedication will never go out. Rest in peace, Kobe Bryant.