Leaving a legacy: Kobe Bryant

On January 26, the world was shocked by the sudden death of former NBA star, Kobe Bryant. He was on his way to coach at a basketball tournament at his sports facility, Mamba Sports Academy. 

As a son of a former NBA player, Joe Bryant, it was almost expected that Kobe follow in his father’s footsteps. Bryant grew up in Italy, where he played basketball and soccer. After moving back to the U.S., he continued his basketball career at Lower Merion High School. He lead his team to four straight state championships.

He had good grades and high SAT scores, but Bryant decided to start his NBA career straight out of high school. He began his career with the Charlotte Hornets but was later traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. 

In 1998, Bryant (age 19) was voted a starter at the All-Star Game, which made him the youngest All-Star in NBA history. Bryant helped the Lakers win three consecutive NBA championships, along with earning first-team all-NBA from 2002-2004.

Bryant led the league in scoring in 2006 and 2007. In 2006, he scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors. This was the second-highest single-game mark in NBA history. Bryant was then named Most Valuable Player in 2008 as he carried his team to the finals. 

Bryant was a part of both the 2008 and 2012 U.S. Olympic teams. He played among other top players at the time, such as Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony. Both years, they won gold medals. 

He was known for being a determined, hard worker. He tore his Achilles in April 2013 but worked hard to return to the court by the start of the regular season in October. Unfortunately, just six games in, he fractured his knee which took him out for the rest of the season. In 2015, his season was also ended early due to a torn rotator cuff. 

He was back in time for the start of the 2015-2016 season, but he struggled. In November 2015, he announced his retirement. 

“My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind but my body knows it’s time to say goodbye,” Bryant wrote on The Players’ Tribune website. 

During his last game, he scored 60 points and led his team to a win against the Utah Jazz. This was Bryant’s sixth 60-point game in his career. 

Bryant wrote a poem titled “Dear Basketball” in 2015. He then decided to turn his poem into a short film. This almost five-and-a-half-minute film was debuted at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. In 2018, Bryant received an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. 

Kobe Bryant was one of the greats in NBA history. He was an extremely hard worker who was passionate about the sport. He was very well-respected in and out of the basketball community. He will definitely be missed.