The Mamba legacy lives on

Raymond Vasquez, Staff Writer

At 17 years of age, he was selected 13th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets, then immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers shortly after. At 19, he was the youngest player to start in an All-Star Game. At 21, he won his first championship with the Los Angeles Lakers, achieving a three-peat followed by two consecutive wins. At 30, he was named the 2008-09 NBA season MVP. At 35, he officially retired from his NBA career and, at 41, he tragically lost his life in a freak helicopter accident. Loved by his fans, hated by his opponents, but respected universally, Kobe Bean Bryant truly left his mark on the world.

Highly regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, Bryant helped the Lakers win five NBA championships, was an 18-time All-Star, a 12-time member of the All-Defensive team, and a two-time NBA Finals MVP, to name just a few of his numerous and lasting achievements. He also won gold medals with Team USA in the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. He never limited his influence to one team or even one country but was highly regarded worldwide as one of the best, forever changing the game of basketball.

His legacy continues far beyond the reach of basketball. Kobe Bryant’s philanthropic work changed the lives of millions of children through the foundation that he and his wife, Vanessa Bryant, started. What cannot be forgotten through all of this, however, was his impact on the WNBA and on female athletes as a whole. Bryant was especially influential on his daughter Gianna Bryant, who wanted to follow him into professional basketball. Tragically, Gigi lost her life in the same accident that took her father’s life. Additionally, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, John Altobelli, Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan also lost their lives in the deadly accident. Bryant showed that the Black Mamba was truly proud to be a #GirlDad, even to his last moments.

Kobe Bryant also had a big impact on many of our fellow Westmont students.

Junior Matthew Williams said, “Watching a playoff game in 2006 when [Bryant] beat the Phoenix Suns at the buzzer” was his fondest memory of the legend.

For Junior K.C. Smith, it was watching as his final game “summed up his career.”

Alyssa Tumlos

Sophomore Elijah Lopez fondly remembers when “[Bryant] won his ring with Shaq in 2004.”

“Piling on my parents’ bed” to watch Bryant play with his father and brother, was Junior Koughan Case’s memory.

Williams said that there has been a lot of “reconciliation” between sports and people in general when asked about how this past year looked without Bryant.

When asked about Kobe Bryant’s greatest attribute, Smith believed it was his Mamba Mentality. “That is what he always preached to everyone that would listen to him.” To him, it was easy to be talented, but “that mentality really set him apart.”

Lopez firmly believed that Bryant “motivated me to strive to do my best work” as well as “see what the right way to do things is.” This motivation pushed him in everything.

“There will be many that try, but it will be very hard for there to be another Kobe Bryant” was how Case responded to the possibility of another Kobe Bryant. “He set himself apart,” ensuring there will never be another quite like him ever again.

What all four could agree on was the disbelief and the grief they all felt when the legend passed away. However, let us not mourn his passing but celebrate his life and legacy. To quote him: “I don’t want to be the next Michael Jordan, I only want to be Kobe Bryant.” Through all the effort he put in every single day, he truly deserves a seat among the best players of all time. He is not the next anyone, but truly embodied the Black Mamba: Kobe Bryant. So, to quote him one last time: Mamba Out!

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