Sports are something that many people turn to in times of pain and challenges. But there are times where tragedy brings sports fans together in ways that they had no idea. Kobe Bryant’s untimely passing was one of those times. This moment was especially difficult for Lakers fans, but people all over the world felt the disastrous loss of this incredible player. Bryant was someone for amateur basketball players to look up to, but also for his ex-teammates to befriend. A very down to earth player, Kobe had his ups and downs both on and off the court, but still managed to leave this life an accomplished man.
Bryant had been retired from the Lakers for several years, but much like Shaq, he was still quite the face of the team. Twenty years in the NBA brought Kobe the recognition that he deserved as an all-star player and a good friend. Even after he retired from the NBA in 2016, he partook in the world of sports, this time encouraging female athletes to pursue their dreams. Bryant was especially adamant that his daughters partake in athletics and exposed them to the WNBA and the US Women’s National Team from an early age.
Kobe Bryant was one of those few players who completely skipped college basketball and was instead drafted right out of high school. He was the thirteenth pick from the 1996 draft by the Charlotte Hornets but was immediately traded for Vlade Divac by the Lakers. When the player turned thirty-four, Bryant became one of the youngest players in the league’s history to reach 30,000 career points and even ended up as the leading scorer in Lakers history, surpassing Jerry West. To add to his record holding, he was the first guard in NBA history to play for at least twenty seasons.
Plenty of awards were allotted to Kobe Bryant over the years. He raked in eighteen All-Star designations, the second-most of all time after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Kobe also took four All-Star MVP Awards, the most in NBA history. But it wasn’t just the NBA to which Kobe was recognized. He won two gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics as a member of the United States national team and even took an Oscar for his 2017 film Dear Basketball.
Bryant wasn’t just heavily involved in the NBA. He used his incredibly high net worth to help a huge variety of ventures throughout the United States and even dipped a toe in China working with the Kobe Bryant China Fund, a partner of the Soong Ching Ling Foundation designed to support health and education programs. Within the United States, Kobe Bryant was the official ambassador for the After-School All-Stars. This non-profit has chapters in thirteen American cities and provides wholesome after school programs for children.
His wife was also involved in these philanthropic efforts, and together they founded the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation. This organization is two-fold, both “helping young people in need, encouraging the development of physical and social skills through sports and assisting the homeless.” Bryant spoke passionately about how unfairly homeless people were treated, particularly in the realm of the judicial system.
So when news that Kobe Bryant had gotten in a horrendous helicopter accident on his way to a basketball game from John Wayne airport, the whole world stopped. His loved ones were beyond broken-hearted, particularly his wife because she not only lost her husband but also her daughter in the chopper crash.