Reflecting on Kobe Bryant’s legacy in wake of his death


Photo credit: Andrea Nebhut

Illustration by Andrea Nebhut

Early Sunday afternoon, sports, the country and the whole world lost a legend when a helicopter crashed into the hills of Calabasas, California, killing nine people, including Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant.

His accomplishments on the court speak for themselves. Five National Basketball Association (NBA) championships, 18 All-Star Game selections and one Most Valuable Player (MVP) award are just a few accolades Bryant collected over 20 years as a Laker, yet these numbers pale in comparison to the overall impact he had on the sport of basketball. Millions of kids grew up yelling ‘Kobe’ when tossing paper to the trash or shooting a tough basket in the backyard with their friends inspired by the stellar guard. Bryant was the face of the NBA and of one of sports’ most iconic franchises. In this role, Bryant inspired generations of players, which could be clearly seen around the NBA in the immediate aftermath of his death.

Right here in San Antonio, the Spurs and Toronto Raptors began their recent home game by holding the ball for alternating 24-second violations to honor Bryant’s iconic jersey number. Games around the league followed and did the same, as well as taking an eight-second backcourt violation, honoring Bryant’s original number. Players, coaches and broadcasters alike shed tears throughout the country as they dealt with the shock of losing Bryant and his daughter so suddenly.

“Black Mamba,” as he was known, was simultaneously feared and admired by fans across the league. When he took the floor, there was a good chance he would be leading the Purple and Gold to victory, breaking the hearts of countless fans throughout the years. On Sunday, however, everyone’s hearts broke upon hearing the news. Reports say the helicopter was traveling to Gianna’s basketball game when it crashed, and knowing Kobe and his daughter were about to partake in the game they love makes the gut-wrenching news all the more difficult to accept.

Ultimately, beyond losing a basketball legend, three daughters lost a sister and a father, and a mother lost a daughter and a husband.

In the coming days, months and years, the Bryant family will remain in everyone’s thoughts. There are certain days you’ll never forget. Unfortunately, Jan. 26, 2020 is one of those days. May Kobe, Gianna and everyone on that helicopter rest in peace.