BY CHRISTINA O’FARRELL, STAFF WRITER
I remember being 10 years old and watching Kobe Bryant win an NBA championship in 2010, thinking, “He won again?” I grew up playing basketball, so naturally I fell into the habit of watching NBA games. I wanted to be able to learn more about the sport I loved so much, and learn more about how to be a great player.
I would classify players in my 10-year-old brain as “good,” and I vividly remember putting Bryant in that category. But he was so much more than good. He was great. Whenever I’d see the yellow and purple jerseys, Kobe Bryant was the only player who came to mind. The Los Angeles Lakers might as well have been called the Los Angeles Kobe Bryants.
On Jan. 26, 2020, the sad news that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi and seven others passed away broke the internet. Social media immediately paused whatever meme trend they were hopping on and began posting in remembrance of Bryant. But what stood out to me the most was that it wasn’t just people involved in the sports world who were honoring Bryant’s memory — it was everyone.
Bryant’s impact wasn’t just on the court, but off the court. You don’t have to know anything about basketball or his stats to know who Kobe Bryant was. His spirit resonated with people. He came from a relatable background with a heroic story of entering professional basketball at only age 17, so immediately he became a favorite to sports fans everywhere.
Besides being an all-star on the court, Bryant did so much off the court as well. He tried to create more focus on women’s basketball and put almost all his focus on being a father. He created the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, Ca. to try and inspire kids to compete in sports, placing special emphasis on girl’s basketball. Gigi was very much into women’s basketball which pushed Bryant to become a WNBA advocate.
In any interview with Bryant, his happy spirit and love for his wife and kids was apparent. At the 2020 Grammys this year, there was a heavy atmosphere because the legend had passed earlier in the day. The stage even lit up with his jersey, further proving just how important he was not only to the sports world but to the music world and beyond.
I was encouraged to see people talking about how they would view life differently after Bryant’s passing. People on social media have been preaching about telling the ones you love that you love them and holding those close to you as close as you can. The “life is so short” motto has really taken center stage after this tragedy. This death has hit harder than any other celebrity’s death in the past few years, which further proves how influential this man really was.
I will never forget watching Kobe Bryant win two NBA championships in a row and thinking, “This is how good I want to be when I get older,” and I will never forget his impact, not just on my life and the basketball world, but on the world at large.