Kobe Bryant: A Legend Lost. A Legacy Remembered

By 3 August 2020

The Legacy of Kobe Bryant

The world mourns the recent passing of basketball icon - Kobe Bryant.

News left everyone in shock as Kobe Bryant, along with 8 other people, including his daughter died after his helicopter crashed on a hillside in the Calabasas area.Memories Page sign up

Bryant will be remembered as one of the greatest players in basketball history. He spent 20 memorable years with the Los Angeles Lakers gathering five NBA championships and breaking a number of records. He was selected to play with the NBA All Stars on 18 occasions, 4 of which he received MVP. He also won two gold medals at the summer Olympics with team USA.

After he retired from basketball he moved into film-making where he continued to win awards and inspire people of all generations.

Kobe Bryant Remembered

His Early Days in Basketball

Kobe Bryant comes from a family of basketball players. His dad, Joe Bryant, is a former basketball player for the Philadelphia 76ers. He is likewise the nephew of basketball player John "Rotund" Cox. Born on August 23rd, 1978, Kobe began playing ball at 3 years old. As fate would have it, his favorite team was the LA Lakers.

When Bryant was six, his father left the NBA and moved his family to Italy where he continued playing professional basketball in the lower-level Italian league. During summers, Kobe would come back to the United States to play in a basketball summer league.

He earned national recognition during a spectacular high school career. During his junior year, he was named Pennsylvania player of the year, attracting attention from college recruiters. In the 1996 NBA draft he was selected by the Charlotte Hornets as the thirteenth pick, before being traded to the Lakers only a month later. Signing with the league right out of high school in 1996, he changed the way the NBA identified, groomed and developed its youngest stars.

A Winning Record

Kobe Bryant Trophies

In Bryant’s first season with the Lakers, he averaged just 7.9 points per game. However he consistently averaged above 20 points a game after the 98-99 season. There were 3 seasons where he averaged 30 points or more per game with the 05-06 season averaging more than 35 points per game. In this season he scored 81 points in a single game which is an NBA record for the most points scored in a single game. That record has not been broken to this day.

Bryant finished up with 33,643 points in his career which is 4th on the list of all time highest scores, only recently overtaken by LeBron James. In fact his last tweet on his Twitter account reads "Continuing to move the game forward @KongJames. Much respect brother #33644". This was paying tribute to LeBron James for overtaking him in the all time leading basketball point scorers.

Bryant remains as the highest point scoring Guard of all time.

Brand Endorsements and Net Worth

Outside of basketball, Bryant made much of his income from brand endorsements. Bryant’s most significant sponsor was Nike. In 2003 he sealed a $40 million contract with Nike who supported Kobe until he retired. Kobe Bryant reached a net worth estimated at $600 million. By the time Bryant retired from basketball in 2016, he had total career earnings of $770 million.

Black Mamba

The Launch and Rise of Black Mamba

Bryant gave himself the nickname “Black Mamba” after charges of sexual assault were dismissed in 2004. “Black Mamba” was an alter ego created to cope with the backlash created as a result of the case. In a 2015 interview he mentioned what inspired the name. "When I step on that court, I become that. I am that killer snake. I'm stone cold, man."

Since then, he teamed with Nike to launch a youth basketball league called “Mamba League”. Shortly after he created “Mamba Sports Academy” and from there the Mamba brand well and truly took off. Nike also held “Mamba Day” to honor his retirement in 2016 as “Black Mamba” truly cemented it’s name in association with Bryant in the minds of the people.

Kobe as a Family Man

Bryant is married to Vanessa Laine Bryant. The couple have been married since 2001 and have four children. Natalia Diamante (b. 2003), Gianna Maria-Onore (b. 2006, d. 2020), Bianka (b. 2016) and Capri (b. 2019).

Gianna, nicknamed Gigi also lost her life in the crash and it was rumoured they were flying to one of her games at the Mamba Academy to avoid the LA traffic. Bryant had a soft spot for Gigi and was coaching her to help achieve her goal of playing in the WNBA.

Bryant and Daughter Gigi

Paying It Forward

Kobe planned out his post-retirement life as he announced his departure from the game.

I love telling stories, I love inspiring kids. The biggest key, I think, is inspiring the next generation of athletes, and how to do that, and I think content is an extremely powerful tool of inspiring the next generation of athletes, and that´s what I´m looking forward to doing.”

Kobe did exactly as he planned after basketball retirement by telling stories as a filmmaker.

Kobe Bryant Oscar

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Kobe as a Filmmaker

Bryant didn´t waste any time in venturing into his passion for inspiring the next generation. He kicked off his “retirement” life with a poem titled "Dear Basketball”. He soon collaborated with the best in the film industry to turn this piece into a short film, including Disney animator Glen Keane and composer John Williams.

Dear Basketball was a love letter to the game of basketball in the format of an animated short. In this production, Bryant expresses his love for the sport, picturing himself as a kid with dreams of becoming one of the greatest ever to play.

The animated film, is highly inspirational and narrates Kobe´s path to becoming one of the most dominant players of all time. Dear Basketball was an instant success and won the 2018 Academy Award for Best Animated short film.

In 2018, Bryant earned an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for Dear Basketball.

Kobe as a Coach

Another way which Bryant impacted the younger generation of athletes was through coaching. Bryant spent most of his time coaching his daughter Gianna’s youth basketball team, teaching fundamentals of the game, while inspiring them to be the best. This was going to be his next focus and he had big plans for the young generation. Obama summed it up nicely in a tweet that read "Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act."

Kobe Bryant Coaching

His tragic death

Bryant was on board a helicopter on 26 January 2020 that crashed in the Calabasas suburb of Los Angeles. Nine people died, including Bryant and Gianna "Gigi," his 13-year-old daughter, college baseball coach John Altobelli and wife Keri and daughter Alyssa. The helicopter is said to have flown from Orange County to Thousands Oaks, California, where Bryant was scheduled to coach a game at Mamba Sports Academy.

His legacy and inspiration

Kobe Bryant work extremely hard to excel in what he does. He wanted to pass down the torch to the next generation by inspiring and educating.

“You got to do what you love to do,” Bryant said. “I love telling stories. I love inspiring kids or providing them with tools that are going to help them.”

Kobe Bryant wanted to inspire the young generation of athletes and showed them how sports can act as a microcosm for life in general - the collective need to work together to achieve a goal, hard work, sacrifice and how one should be able to handle both success and failure.

To quote Kobe Bryant during a pre-game press conference he mentioned

“That’s the true mark of a legacy … how it affects the next generation.”

We can certainly agree that Bryant had a sizeable impact on the next generation for the better. It's just so sad that he left this world far too soon, especially with his ambnitious goals to achieve so much more. Which based on his attitude and persistance was only going to be achieved with more time on this planet.

Kobe Bryant Goodbye

Click here to view and sign his Online Memorial