Kobe Bryant. August 23. 1978- January 26, 2020

by The Beacon Staff

Last week the sport’s world, the basketball world, and the world that sits outside of those two worlds were rocked with the news that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, six fellow passengers who were friends of the Bryant family and the pilot all died when the
helicopter they were flying crashed.

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Fans of the Los Angeles Lakers’ icon gathered at the Staples Center to mourn and reflect on Bryant’s storied career. ESPN and other networks highlighted his career as fellow athletes and sports notorieties shared what Kobe Bryant meant to them, to basketball, and to the world.

Bryant’s career accomplishments:
Being the third leading scoring in the NBA up to the night before the helicopter crash
(LeBron James passed him Saturday evening when the Lakers were on the road in Philadelphia), the Lakers all time leading scoring, five NBA championships which he
is tied for, being recognized as “one of the most decorated careers in the history of the
sport” by the New York Times, and being named as the NBA player of the decade of
the 2000’s by Sporting News and TNT.

On the court, Kobe Bryant was a force. A force that took athleticism to a place and time where it transcends into something greater than the sum of its parts. Maybe this is a reason that could explain the outpouring love that was shown on television and computer screens across the nation and worldwide last weekend. For the most part sports fans do not meet, become friends, and develop a close friendship with their hometown professional sports heroes. Regardless, it seems sports fans fall in love with their sports heroes because of how they push athleticism to a level not seen before.To a level of spontaneity, fluidity, and a form of poetry that steps beyond one being “in the zone”.

The added sting to last week’s tragedy is that Kobe Bryant was starting out on his second act in life. An act that many stated could have even had a more positive influence on society and culture, more so than what he did on the basketball court.

Bryant’s philanthropic work included being the official ambassador for the after-school program After-School All-Stars which serves the educational and physical educational needs of children in 13 cities across the United States.

Bryant also partnered with the Soong Ching Ling Foundation, which is backed by the Chinese government after starting the Kobe Bryant China Fund. The organization helps raise money in China for education and health programs.

The above-mentioned organizations and the other foundations that Kobe was a part of will miss his presence, his energy, his focus, his dedication and his love for helping the young realize and move towards their potential as athletes and as individuals.

Google the clip of Kobe Bryant being interviewed by Jimmy Kimble. You’ll see the love he had for his daughter Gianna on full display as he describes his daughter’s reaction to fans who approach him and ask when he is going to have a son to carry on his legacy. He slides effortlessly into Gianna character, tapping his chest a few times after which he states, “And [Gigi’s] like, Oi. I got this. Don’t need no boy for that, I got this.” Then the head nod and that timeless Kobe Bryant smile. In Kobe’s own words, “Being a father
is the thing I am most proud of in this world. It’s my greatest accomplishment.
I’ve learned so much, but perhaps the most profound thing has been the fierce unconditional love that you have for your children when you become a parent. I’m blessed to have had that experience four times now.”

Kobe Bryant’s families, all of them will miss his presence.

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