The world experienced a tragedy a year ago. One that still shocks me every time I think of it. The death of Kobe Bryant.
Kobe stood for more than just basketball, he stood for hard work, dedication, intense competitiveness, and hope. Kobe Bryant was a man, but also a legend.
What made Kobe so great? Arguably, many things. However, it was the fact that he asked so much of himself and never settled for anything other than greatness. He was an icon that represented more than a game, and that is why the world has lost a great figure and person.
Not everyone liked Kobe, but I don’t know anyone who didn’t respect him as an athlete. There’s no denying that Kobe was one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He was always the hardest working player on the Lakers and he made others great by association. He demanded others to push past their limits and to not rest on their laurels.
That’s the mark of a leader: someone who encourages you, inspires you, and challenges you to be the best version of yourself.
A legend among us
Kobe wanted greatness, so he worked for it. He understood that if he wanted to be the best, he had to be better than the rest. So that meant sacrifice. He dedicated his heart, soul, and body to practice and fundamentals, as well as learning the game inside and out. His mentality and his knowledge of the game exceeded other players and is what propelled him to the top.
The world mourned the death and remembers the life of a legend not just because Kobe excelled on the basketball court, but also because he represented so much more to the world. As a natural consequence of greatness, Kobe stood for hope.
Young boys would grow up watching Kobe and emulating him, he was a role model and something to aspire to become. Kobe showed the world that it was possible to become unstoppable, he opened the door and made others believe. He gifted the world with the idea that limits are imposed and that nothing is impossible.
Without having someone lay down the path ahead of you, it’s hard to comprehend the possibility of achieving greatness, but Kobe Bryant did just that. He gave hope to billions of people and shaped the current generation of basketball players. The NBA has been changed because of his contributions to the game.
However godlike Kobe may have seemed, he was definitely a man and a mortal, to which the world tragically became aware of after his accident. He made mistakes, faced obstacles, and experienced life just like the rest of us, the only difference is he never allowed life to bring him down.
He developed haters and wasn’t always the most-liked person in the room, but he never wavered in himself. His undeniable attitude and confidence in his abilities and who he was is commendable.
Silencing the haters through his work, Kobe never stopped following his heart. A lot of people think that passion should come easily, but Kobe was a testament that passion is what drives you to do whatever is necessary to be the best, and then the rest is hard work.
Lessons gleaned from greatness
What can we learn from Kobe and this tragic loss the world has experienced? We can remember him for his mentality and admire him for his hard work.
Kobe knew he was naturally talented, but he never allowed that to stop him from putting in the extra hours or the sacrifice of his body and his time. Kobe was great because he made himself great. And even after retirement, he never stopped his greatness, because once a person achieves greatness, it penetrates everything they do.
Kobe’s entrepreneurial spirit and his love for the game were seen in his mentorship of younger players, his charity work, and his Academy Award. And also, his heart was seen through his family and how he dedicated himself just as hard as he drove in the paint to being the best father he could be. Not every life is long, Kobe’s was cut off at halftime, but his legacy will live forever.
To the man who became a legend: I watched you growing up and thought you were invincible, but now I know you were mortal. I remember the shock the moment I found out and the days it took me to process the truth of it. I remember how you achieved greatness.
Thanks for showing this little girl, and the world, what it means to be a Mamba.
Brittany Noelle Roa is an interdisciplinary artist with an MFA in Physical Theatre who uses her art and creativity to heal herself and others. She loves learning about health and wellness so she can optimize her human potential to live a full and happy life.