With the passing of eighteen-time NBA All-Star, Kobe Bryant, the basketball community has been reflecting and celebrating the life accomplishments of the former LA Lakers shooting guard.
A Philadelphia native, Bryant was drafted into the NBA straight out of high school, beginning his 20 seasons with the Lakers.
He won five NBA championships, was a seven-time NBA All-Star, twelve-time All-Defensive Team selection, was named the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP), and was a two-time NBA Finals MVP winner and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, according to mambaout.com, a memorial website commemorating the athlete.
In October 2018, Bryant published his autobiography The Mamba Mentality: How I Play, giving insight into his work ethic and personal motivations.
“The mindset isn’t about seeking a result—it’s more about the process of getting to that result,” Bryant said. “It’s about the journey and the approach. It’s a way of life. I do think that it’s important, in all endeavors, to have that mentality.”
The retired Laker was also known for his various media appearances and his philanthropic work, including After-School All-Stars, a program providing after school support for schools in thirteen cities.
Members of the University of Redlands basketball team reflected on his impact on the sport.
Men’s Basketball player, Aidan Williams ‘23:
“When Kobe passed away last weekend it made me realize that every day is a blessing, you can’t take any day for granted. You know, Kobe has this thing called “Mamba Mentality” where you work as hard as you can at whatever you do. I think ever since he passed away, the team’s been more locked in, working hard and going harder. You hear stories of him practicing at 3AM, he was a role model for me. I have Kobe shoes, got a poster of him on my wall and saw him play in Portland where I’m from.”
Women’s Basketball player, Maria Urbano-Sedlud ‘23:
“I know I’ve only seen a couple of games, but [his passing] had a big impact on me and the basketball community as a whole. Everyone knows him, and he was one of the greatest players of all time. Our condolences go out to his family during these difficult times and I know that his legacy will continue to live on.”
Women’s Basketball Assistant Coach, Denise Bennett:
“It’s affected me tremendously. It was something that my family would do together— watch him play basketball. We were Lakers fans and we are Lakers fans and Kobe Bryant fans, especially. Personally, my dog is named Kobe. After the passing, that day it was even weird calling his name.
As a basketball coach, there’s nothing like the “Mamba Mentality” and the driving force that he had with him, it was unlike any other. You listen to interviews from other celebrities and their saying how he was practicing before practice, after practice in the gym before anybody else. Whether he was waving a towel or getting water for a teammate or hitting the winning shot, he would do whatever was possible for the team and that’s the right type of message that we like to bring here as a program; that we’re about the team.”
The Feb. 2 Sacramento Kings v. LA Lakers game included a ceremony for Bryant.
Having been in Sacramento myself that weekend visiting, despite not being able to buy tickets, the Lakers and basketball fans in and around the Golden One Center filled the air with excitement and respect. Large photos of Bryant and his daughter were displayed on the stadium’s entrance, with KOBE spelt out in large, purple lettering. Lamp post banners commemorated the athlete. It felt like everyone, from the fans to even our Uber driver, wearing number 24 and 8 jerseys, couldn’t help but remember how precious life is.
Cover Photograph from Wikimedia Commons; Player portraits from Go Redlands.