Kobe Bean Bryant, 41, died on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, from injuries sustained in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
Bryant was born Aug. 23, 1978, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was introduced to the basketball consciousness as a basketball phenom at Lower Merion High School. He was introduced to the national consciousness in 1996 when he was selected with the 13th pick in the NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets and sent to the legendary Los Angeles Lakers in a draft-night trade. Over the course of his 20-year career with the Lakers, he won five championships, a slam dunk contest, an MVP Award and 971 games, across the regular season and playoffs. He would retire as the third-highest scorer in NBA history and as one of the most decorated players to ever play for one of the most decorated franchises in sports.
Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa Bryant and three daughters, who will be mourning not just the loss of their husband and father but also their oldest sister, Gianna, 13, who was aboard the helicopter and perished when it crashed.
He is survived by millions of basketball fans who were inspired by the magnitude of his athletic achievements, the aesthetic beauty of his movements on a basketball court and the seemingly pathological devotion to excellence that he used to separate himself from his peers.
He is survived by a Lakers organization and fanbase that had their own measures of greatness redefined by two decades of supporting and marveling at Bryant. He is survived by credible accusations of rape, from a 2003 incident in Eagle, Colorado with a then 19-year-old hotel worker, an incident that Bryant maintained was consensual even though he recognized and acknowledged later that she did not view the incident as consensual.
He is survived by the ashes of bridges burned in relationships with teammates that did not measure up to his standards of performance or preparation. He is survived by contemporary rivals and antagonists like Tim Duncan, Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki who provided obstacles to best and sometimes be bested by, as he built his personal mythology.
He is survived by a generation of young NBA players and future NBA players, inspired by the feel and form of his game, the last and most tangible link to Michael Jordan. He is survived by the culture of women’s basketball, from youth to professional, that he actively supported and championed in his post-playing career.
Services will be held throughout the rest of this season at NBA arenas across the league, as players live out the inspiration he gave them and symbolic gestures — jersey numbers retired, sneakers marked up, patches worn — are made by individuals and organizations.
Friends and fans may call out, “Kobe,” as they hoist turnaround jumpers, honoring him at courts large and small around the world. Contributions in memory of Bryant may be made to the greater good by hugging your family and friends and telling them you love them, approaching all of life’s challenges with as much passion as you can muster, supporting women and organizations who support women, in all areas, including those who are survivors of sexual violence, and continuing to love and celebrate the power of basketball.