“When we are saying this cannot be accomplished, this cannot be done, then we are short-changing ourselves. My brain, it cannot process failure. It will not process failure. Because if I have to sit there and face myself and tell myself ‘you are a failure,’ I think that is almost worse than dying.” – Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020.
The entire sporting world is mourning the loss of basketball legend Kobe Bryant after his helicopter went down near Los Angeles yesterday.
Bryant, aged 41, died alongside eight others when a private helicopter crashed en route to his daughter’s basketball game.
His 13-year-old daughter, Gigi Bryant, also died in the crash.
Kobe Bryant, known just as Kobe or the “Black Mamba”, spent 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers and was a sensational basketball player, but his legacy extends far beyond the sport.
He was a five-time NBA champion, an NBA Finals MVP and a two-time Olympic gold medallist, and arguably one of the greatest athletes to ever grace the sport.
Off the court, Bryant was a complex person with a checkered past – including a serious rape allegation in 2003.
Ignoring this allegation would not be fair to the victim, but it would be unfair to define Kobe’s legacy by the underlying controversy.
He inspired generations of people around the world to strive for excellence, and he led by example not just in basketball, but in his business ventures, and most recently his dedication to coaching and growing women’s sport.
While I do not believe his support of women’s sport makes up for his past, I do believe that his love for his daughters and their future in sport was as real as it gets.
As an athlete myself, Kobe’s dedication to women’s sport gave me hope for a changing world.
He used his position to promote women’s sport, supporting the US Women’s National Soccer Team, the WNBA and tennis stars like Naomi Osaka.
Kobe also gave back to the community, using his knowledge to coach youth girls basketball.
He wanted to help create a world where his daughters, Gigi, Natalia, Bianka and Capri could achieve their dreams.
Gigi was a rising basketball star in her own right, and had ambitions of playing in the WNBA – a feat she was sure to achieve.
And the effects of her death are not lost in the impact of her father’s.
Gigi would have inspired the next generation of basketball players, her talent spoke for itself and to not get to witness her career is devastating.
There is no doubt that her teammates at the Mamba Academy will carry her and their coach Kobe’s legacies forward into their future endeavours.
The world lost two shining stars in Gigi and Kobe Bryant, but their impact on the world will transcend lifetimes.