Jan. 26, 2020 is a day that will go down as one the most heart-breaking days in sports history.
A fatal crash about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles took Kobe Bryant’s life away, along with eight other passengers, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.
Bryant inspired a generation of basketball players worldwide with unbelievable moments and an unimaginable competitive fire.
Bryant was respected by basketball fans from every place with a hoop and a dream, including his native Philadelphia and in Italy, his other childhood home.
There is not a single office in the United States, where someone has not crumbled up a piece of paper and shot it at a trash can while simultaneously saying “KOBE!”
The 18-time All Star and five-time champion, was the soul of not only the Lakers, but also the entirety of the NBA.
He was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996 before he was subsequently traded to the Lakers for Vlade Divac. The trade would change the Lakers history forever.
Bryant ended up pairing with another Laker great, Shaquille O’Neal. Together, they were the league’s most dominant duo who hated each other on the court. The pair would win three titles under head coach Phil Jackson before the inevitable break up in 2004.
Bryant went on to win two more titles versus the Orlando Magic in 2008 and the Boston Celtics in 2010.
In 2013, Bryant was well on his way to another dominant season when he tore his Achilles tendon in a late regular season game against the Golden State Warriors. He famously was able hit two free throws after tearing up his knee before he was taken to the locker room.
After the injury, Bryant appeared never to be the same, until he returned for a farewell season in 2016, where he scored 60 points in his final game at the Staples Center.
A poll to change the NBA’s logo from Jerry West to Kobe Bryant has already reached 2,000,000 signatures and continues to grow. The interesting piece of this story comes from West, who was also the same man who traded for Bryant. West said that he is 100% in agreement with the idea of giving his logo spot to Bryant.
This marks the first year Bryant is eligible for induction to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Being a for sure first ballot pick, he will be honored in August of this year and will forever be immortalized in the game of basketball.
It did not take long for Bryant to dominate off the court after retirement. He was seizing new challenges and was inspired by his daughters.
In retirement, Bryant’s influence also grew in storytelling. He founded a production company and was the author of multiple novels. In 2018, he won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for “Dear Basketball,” based on a poem he wrote when he had announced his retirement in 2015.
His daughter, Gianna, was very well on her way to writing her glorious story as “Mambacita” before the fatal crash ended her story too early.
The two died doing what they loved. Gianna was on her way to a basketball game, and Kobe was on his way to watch his daughter have fun. That was what truly mattered to him.