When we hear the name, we think about one of the greatest basketball players to live. However, the man behind the name is so much more than just a player. He was a father, a husband, a brother, a businessman, a motivator, an inspiration, a role model, an icon, and last but certainly not least, a legend. For me personally, he is the reason for my love of the game of basketball.
At just six years old, the first NBA game I can remember watching was on January 22, 2006, when he dropped 81 points. My father was with me, and all he said to me was, “Son, this is the result of God-given talent and a hard work ethic. This is greatness.” I watched and was completely in awe of him and the sport. I was mesmerized by the level of skill, coordination, and dominance on display. But there was more to it than just the game itself — the look in his eyes, the passion he played with, you could tell just from his demeanor that he worked his hardest day in and out.
From that moment on, I became a fanatic of the game and of him. At first, it was just throwing paper balls into a trash can and yelling “Kobe!” as many of us probably have done many times. As I grew older, my perception of him changed. He was not just a player, but a role model and my hero. I respected and treasured him for the work ethic and mentality he showed through his lifestyle. He embodied “Mamba Mentality,” the infamous phrase that was associated with Kobe’s dedication to the game and to making a difference in the world. No matter the circumstances, no matter the odds, he never made excuses or gave complaints. He simply accepted his situation and worked hard to turn all tribulations into success. This kind of mentality and work ethic is what strongly connected me to him.
I wanted to perceive life for myself, the way he did. I truly believe if the majority of people had the will and drive that Kobe held onto every single day of his life, the world would be exponentially better.
The best trait that he had was his self-awareness. He understood exactly what he needed to do in his life to be successful. His ability to evaluate himself and adapt is what made him such a dynamic person. During his career in the NBA, as well as after he retired from it, he strove constantly to inspire his generation as well as the younger one that followed. He touched hundreds of thousands of people and will continue to reach out to millions, even to those who aren’t here yet. His legacy is set for eternity, and all his accomplishments will be remembered.
I personally never had the opportunity to meet Kobe Bryant — my perception of him is merely a reflection of what I saw from others who interacted with him. I believe that the same person I saw on the television or on YouTube is the same man that I see: the kind, determined man who put all his energy in building himself up and others around him. The way he was dedicated to his family, to serving others, and inspiring youth shows the type of person he was.
It’s just so hard to imagine a world where the person you looked up to the most, who served as a role model to you, was taken from you. Unfortunately, I and many others have to live in this reality. But from the wise words of Kobe himself, “Have a good time. Life is too short to get bogged down and be discouraged.” I know Kobe and his daughter would want everyone he inspired to continue living life to our fullest. “Heroes come and go, but legends are forever.”
Kobe, you are and will forever be a legend. I send prayers to the Bryant family as well as the families of the others who have lost people in the plane crash. Kobe and Gianna, rest in peace. As a farewell quote that was used in the final game of his career, and fitting for his unexpected and unwanted passing, “Mamba out.”
Dustin Rojas is a 2021 biology major. His instagram is dustinle_27.
Photo appears courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.