The sports world was hit with sudden tragedy on Jan. 26. Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash. The 18-time All-Star and five-time NBA champion, along with his daughter and seven others, were on their way to a basketball game at Bryant’s Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The helicopter’s pilot experienced difficulties with navigation due to the weather, and at 9:45 that morning, the helicopter crashed into the side of a mountain in Calabasas, Calif. News quickly got out and everyone was in shock.
In the NBA, Bryant was known as “The Black Mamba.” He gave himself this nickname because it was an alter ego to help him get through the lowest point of his basketball career in 2003 and 2004. In July of 2003, Bryant was arrested during an investigation of sexual assault. He was staying at a motel in Colorado to have surgery done. A 19-year-old woman accused him of sexual assault. When the police questioned him, he stated he did, but it was all consensual. After his accuser refused to testify in trial, the case was dropped. Afterwards, a civil case was reopened and solved outside of court. Bryant released an apology to the public, his family and his accuser, but still denying the allegations.
Many of the players on the men’s basketball team here at Blackburn looked up to Bryant, declaring him as their hero. Junior forward Matt Moseley said “his biggest legacy is basketball but he was an amazing friend and an outstanding father, which is more important!” His teammate, freshman forward Zion Henderson, commented on a social media photo of Bryant: “You were my hero, you were the one who inspired me to work hard every day, to go outside in the summer and shoot, to play as hard as I could, to do things on the court that nobody else tried. I remember being the only one in my house cheering for you during the finals, begging my mom for a jersey with your name on the back, practicing moves exactly like you, opening my mouth when driving just like you. Without you I would have never got to meet you and I cried knowing that fact that you’re gone, but I know I will meet you on the other side, praying for your family. Thank you for everything that you gave to the game! You will forever be my hero and my idol.” Freshman wing Allyn Bowdre II said, “I tried to be him. My dad and cousin told me I will be great and I am still trying to follow his footsteps and just be half the player and person he was. There haven’t been many famous people I’ve been sad over, but this one did hurt.”
Although Bryant is gone, he will never be forgotten. He had a huge impact on many people and they will forever hold on to his legacy: Mamba Forever.