The world stopped turning earlier today as word of NBA legend Kobe Bryant’s untimely passing spread.
The 41-year-old died earlier today in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA.
While initial reports were varied, flight manifest records have now confirmed that one pilot and eight passengers, including Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, died in the crash.
In his life, Kobe Bryant played many roles, and wore many hats. Kobe the father; Kobe the husband. Kobe the teammate and champion. Kobe the basketball genius, and Kobe the coach. And while all of these different Kobes will no longer be with us in flesh and blood, they all combine into a singular, eternal Kobe that will never die: Kobe the Legend.
As a father and husband, he will be remembered as a teacher and role model to his children, an ample provider and supporter for his wife, Vanessa, and as a man who is willing to work through difficult times and grow as a man.
When he retired from basketball in 2016, Bryant became increasingly known for his role in coaching and mentoring his late daughter–along with a number of her teammates–on the basketball court. In the past year, the father-daughter pair became known for discussing the x’s and o’s of basketball at Lakers games, from courtside seats.
In basketball, he will be remembered for his game-winning shots, his cool demeanor under pressure, his indomitable will, and for having more moves in his repertoire than any player to ever walk onto a court.
On top of his individual skills, he will go down as one of the greatest team players in history; a 5-time champion, 2-time finals MVP, and 18-time All-Star game Selection.
The sports world expressed shock, grief, and affection in the wake of Kobe’s passing. Michael Jordan released this statement to the press, stating that he loved Kobe and viewed him as a little brother:
LA Clippers Coach Doc Rivers–a long-time opponent of Bryant–was visibly shaken in response to the news:
Another NBA legend who mourns the loss of Kobe Bryant is his former teammate, Shaquille O’Neal. While the pair had a very public falling out and grew to dislike each other during their playing years, they had reconciled and become close again in recent years. Shaq had this to say about the tragic loss of his friend:
Among the most powerful tributes from basketball greats came from a man that many consider to be the greatest Los Angeles Laker of all-time. In his statement, he expressed his love and gratitude for Kobe, as well as setting the record straight:
Today, we mourn the tragic and untimely loss of Kobe Bryant. His family mourns the loss of Kobe the father, husband, brother, and son. His friends surely mourn the loss of Kobe the friend. His players–and their families–mourn the loss of Kobe the coach, while his NBA colleagues mourn the loss of Kobe the basketball icon. And we, as a country, mourn the loss of Kobe the human being.
However, Kobe the Legend–The Black Mamba–lives on, and will never die.
The name “Kobe” will forever ring out in pick-up games when somebody sinks a tough shot.
“Mamba Mentality” will always refer to the killer instinct that all of the greatest competitors in sports share in common.
Highlights of his circus shots, buzzer beaters, and ankle breaking crossovers will forever represent basketball at its greatest.
Most importantly, though, images and moments of Kobe as a loving father, dedicated coach, and supportive husband will never be forgotten–especially not after the tragic accident that took him and eight other people from us earlier this morning.
So, today, as we say “Rest in Peace” to a generational talent and exceptional man, we must also remember one certain truth: Kobe the Legend can never–and will never–die.