By Nicole Georges-Bennett
Fans of Kobe Bryant, for his accomplishments both on and off the basketball court, have expressed deep grief over the basketball legend’s death at the age of 41. Bryant and his 13-year old daughter Gianna, were two of nine people killed in a helicopter crash outside of Los Angeles, on Sunday, January 26.
Kobe Bean Bryant, (born August 23, 1978, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,) helped lead the Los Angeles Lakers to five championships (2000–02 and 2009–10). Bryant’s father, Joe “Jelly Bean” Bryant, was a professional basketball player who spent eight seasons in the NBA and eight more playing in Italy, where Bryant went to school.
When his family returned to the U.S, Bryant played basketball at Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania, where he received several national Player of the Year awards, and broke the south-eastern Pennsylvania scoring record set by Wilt Chamberlain with 2,883 points. After graduating from high school, Bryant opted to forgo college and was recruited by The Charlotte Hornets who chose him with the 13th pick of the 1996 draft. He was traded to the Lakers shortly after, becoming the second youngest NBA player in history. He was subsequently selected for the NBA All-Star Game in just his second season, becoming the youngest All-Star. Bryant, along with teammate Shaquille O’Neal led Lakers to 3 NBA championships by the time Bryant was 23.
In 2003, Bryant was accused of sexual assault, which was settled by a civil suit in 2005. In 2004, Bryant led the Lakers to the NBA finals in 2004, but was defeated by the Detroit Pistons.
Bryant played his entire 20 year professional career with the Lakers. He was an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team, was named the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), and was a two-time NBA Finals MVP winner. Widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, he led the NBA in scoring during two seasons, ranks fourth on the league’s all-time regular season scoring, and ranks fourth on the all-time postseason scoring list. Bryant retired after the 2015–16 season.
Fans on Kobe’s career and life:
George Joseph: Growing up watching him, he was my favourite player. He was the reason I loved the Lakers. He had a killer instinct and he would just destroy the opposing team. To me he was an awesome player, who played the game the way it was supposed to be played; he shared the ball when he had to, took control when he had to, and just had an instinct for what to do, and when to do it. Very few players had that in them. He wasn’t a big man like Shaq, but he had dunking skills, a killer jump shot, and excellent playmaking skills. When I got the news he had died, I didn’t believe it was real. He was a good father, and he dedicated his life after retirement to his family. He put all his time into them, with all his heart. I’m very proud to have seen him as a black man, taking care of his family like that.
Ronald D: He was a hard working, very focused, highly talented individual and a great inspiration to our young guys coming up. He took basketball to another level. He had five championship rings, so that says a lot. Fans loved his dedication because he never sat back on his laurels. He pushed every year to be a better player. He was highly competitive, and now it’s coming out that he was a very dedicated father. His legacy is that his dedication to the sport helped the sport to improve. It wasn’t just a way to make money, it was about being the best player; honing your skill.
Sam George: The unexpected loss of a basketball icon like Kobe, will long be remembered as one of the most devastating losses to millions of fans around the world. Not to diminish the 8 other lives lost including his 13 year -old daughter, but this tragedy brings to mind the old cliché, “The good die young.” He will certainly be missed.