Updated: Feb 25, 2020
by Jake Feldman
Life is short, follow your dreams. Follow them relentlessly. The moment you can't continue, keep pushing, or someone else will. Never stop moving forward.
This is the message of the late NBA Champion, Olympian, All-Star and future Hall of Fame member Kobe Bryant.
On Feb. 8, 1997, Bryant dunked his way into the hearts of basketball fans worldwide. That evening in Cleveland, Ohio, Bryant won his first of many NBA honors when he became the slam dunk champion. The fame followed him throughout his career and amazed fans every night, etching his name in basketball history.
Bryant had an amazing career with five NBA championships, 15 All-Star Game appearances,
four All-Star Game MVP Awards, two NBA Finals MVP Awards, and a single regular-season
MVP Award. He also won two Olympic Gold medals, posted a 60 and an 81 point scoring night, which is second-most in a single game. Bryant scored 81 on the Toronto Raptors and rival Jalen Rose. Kobe's performance, along with his career, will live on in basketball lore forever. Bryant will surely enter the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on the first ballot in 2020.
While his achievements speak for themselves, sports fans relate to the spirit and
attitude Bryant embodied every time he took the court. Bryant, or "The Black Mamba" will forever be remembered for his “Mamba mentality,” never giving in, fearing nothing, and working relentlessly to be the greatest.
Former rival Jalen Rose said, “Kobe knew he was going to be the best to pick up a
basketball,” and looking back on Bryant’s career, his name will always be remembered among the greats.
At one point, Bryant played through an injury and knocked down two free throws when he had a torn achilles. In his 20 years, he worked hard and battled back from surgery to finish his career.
"Life is too short to get bogged down and be discouraged," Bryant said. "You have to keep moving. You have to keep going. Put one foot in front of the other, smile, and just keep moving forward.”
Bryant was relentless. He got better with every loss. He said, "My brain cannot process failure... it's worse than death.” Passion elevated Bryant, and everyone who encountered the Black Mamba knew what it meant when they heard the phrase "killer mentality.”
Bryant gave everything to the sport of basketball, his family and fans, and he passed away doing what he loved most, taking his daughter to a basketball game that he would coach. The Black Mamba will always be remembered.
I am a lifelong sports fan, and Bryant was a popular name in my household. During
my basketball days, I studied every dribble and move he made. I believe that everyone
with a dream of playing basketball did the same. Bryant was a professional sports icon
because he not only gave his fans results, he inspired them to be great as well.
Seeing the NBA family say goodbye to an idol, teammate, mentor and friend touched many.
In many games since his death, teams around the league took both an eight-second and 24-second violation to honor both of Bryant's retired numbers.
Whatever Kobe Bryant means to you, whether as a sports icon, a motivational speaker, an example of a family man, a celebrity or all of the above, his legacy will go down in history and he will be remembered forever.
As he said during his 2016 retirement speech, “Mamba out.”