The first month of this new decade has yet to end and we’ve already faced WW3, Coronavirus and the death of one of my personal superheroes, Kobe Bryant. This is about to be a rough decade. Kobe Bryant was one of nine people who died when the helicopter they were in crashed on a hillside in Calabasas, California. Among the victims was Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna. I’ve truly been mourning the loss of him and his daughter and I send my condolences to his wife and children.
Kobe Bryant represents so much more than just basketball to me. I first heard about Kobe when I was in elementary school. He was dubbed the new Michael Jordan and as a person who only knew Michael Jordan the myth, I paid attention to this guy. I was born in 1998 so I was too late for the peak Jordan era, all we had were Kobe and Lebron. Jordan was cool Nike sneakers and that guy from Space Jam. I still wasn’t that big of a basketball fan so I didn’t have to pay attention to him but he was already a household name.
He was a staple in my life from kids at school yelling “Kobe” while throwing balled up pieces of paper into the trash to all of my favourite rappers using the bar “I be balling like Kobe”. He was in every aspect of pop culture possible. But everything that I learned about him as I got older is what made me admire him. His work ethic, his drive and his almost psychopathic competitive nature. Kobe learned Slovenian so he could talk 7 seconds of shit to Luka Doncic on the off chance he inbounded the ball near him. He was a different type of beast and there was no faking that. You couldn’t fake the moment where Matt Barnes tried to make him flinch with a ball and Kobe stared him in the face. You can’t fake 81 points on my home team the Toronto Raptors. This man truly lived and breathed competition. Mamba mentality wasn’t just a catchphrase, he wanted to be better than he ever was, every single day. And he had that mentality outside of basketball.
Kobe learned how to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on the piano by ear. In 2018 he won an Oscar for best animated short film for his retirement announcement poem “Dear Basketball”. Kobe Bryant would jump over cars just to improve his dunking! This man was not a regular person. Well he was a regular person, but he didn’t have a regular persons mentality. A lot of us are okay with being in the middle. We’re neutral in a lot of situations. We go into activities and jobs and perform well enough to get by. And we’re comfortable with being just okay. We’re comfortable with participation ribbons and C report cards. But that wasn’t Kobe.
To Kobe mediocrity was the same as failure. If Kobe was gonna enter a new adventure he was going to be excellent. He was going to slay every dragon, save every princess and do it 5 more times until he can fly that dragon. That’s what Kobe has left me with. That mentality to excel in everything. Kobe reminds me to stray from the gravitational pull of mediocrity. He reminds me to stay away from my comfort zone and enter every activity with the same goal, to be my best. Kobe has left me with the drive to be the best version of myself in every situation and that doesn’t just mean competitively. A few weeks before his passing the NBA legend was caught on film calmly walking over to a wreckage, directing traffic and helping all of the drivers involved.
Kobe was the best version of himself in all circumstances. He was an involved father as seen by him coaching his daughter Gianna’s basketball team. Kobe understood that excellence wasn’t selective. Excellence isn’t a switch you can turn on and off. If you want to be excellent you have to do that in all fields. That means vocationally, morally, physically, financially, to your family and friends. Kobe understood that you have an obligation to all those categories. And what you’ll find is they all intermingle. They all compliment one another. He understood excellence was a way of life. You’ll be unwittingly programming your mind like Kobe and wiring yourself for greatness. You won’t need to get into “the zone” if you’re always in the zone. That’s the legacy Kobe left me with and the lifestyle that I’ll be aspiring for. If you’re a Kobe fan the way to commemorate his legacy is to continue his vision. Aspire for greatness in every aspect of your life, set a standard for yourself and don’t settle for anything else, go to sleep at night knowing that you gave the day your all. Rest In Peace Mamba 🐍 💜💛
"I'll do whatever it takes to win games, whether it's sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate, or hitting the game-winning shot." -Kobe Bryant