The whole world was heartbroken Sunday as news sources confirmed that Kobe Bryant, at 41 years old, died in a helicopter crash. Whether you’re a sports fan or not, you knew Bryant for one reason or another. For those like me, you got to watch him beat your favorite team over and over. For others, maybe you just exclaimed, “Kobe,” every time you threw a paper ball into the recycling bin. No matter which way you knew him, Bryant’s legacy will live on forever.
Kobe Bryant made everything seem easy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Bryant’s work ethic seems unreal in the fact that he made basketball his entire life.
Former Lakers player and coach Byron Scott recalled a moment in an interview with Business Insider that demonstrates how determined Bryant was. Scott said, “I heard the ball bouncing. No lights were on. Practice was at about 11, it was probably about 9, 9:30. And I go out to the court and I look, and there’s Kobe Bryant. He’s out there shooting in the dark.”
Yesterday, former Chicago Bulls guard Jay Williams emotionally recalled a time he came in before a game to try and outwork Kobe. The Bulls were playing the Lakers at 7 (p.m.), and Williams thought he could outwork Kobe by getting into the gym at 3 (p.m.). But guess who was already in the gym getting a workout in?
Williams said, “I see Kobe Bryant, already working out. Once I step my foot across that line, I started working out. I worked out for a good hour, hour and a half. When I came off after I was done, I sat down and of course, I still heard the ball bouncing.”
After the game, Williams asked Bryant why he was in the gym for so long. Bryant said, “Because I saw you come in and I wanted you to know that it doesn’t matter how hard you work, that I’m willing to work harder than you.”
Even teammates of Bryant couldn’t fully comprehend how hard he worked. One of Bryant’s most prolific teammates of all time, Shaquille O’Neal, would find Bryant practicing basketball without a basketball. Shaq said, “You’d walk in there and he’d be cutting and grunting and motioning like he was dribbling and shooting — except there was no ball. I thought it was weird, but I’m pretty sure it helped him.”
Sadly, Bryant’s daughter, Gianna Bryant, was one of the nine victims of the helicopter crash. She was only 13 years old.
Gianna Bryant had dreams of playing in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). Kobe Bryant was always told that he needs to have a son to take over his legacy in the NBA. Gianna said, “I got this. You don’t need no boy for that. I got this.”
Kobe Bryant will never be forgotten, on or off the court. He has inspired athletes all over the world and will continue to inspire future generations for the rest of history. Gianna Bryant will also never be forgotten, as she was the future Mamba we will never get to see.