One year without The Mamba

One year without The Mamba

Jeremiah Booth, In-depth Writer

After a year, there are still tears to be shed over the death of basketball legend, Kobe Bean Bryant. Today, January 26, 2021, marks the one-year anniversary of “The Mamba’s” death. On January 26, 2020, the retired Los Angeles Lakers star, his daughter Gianna, and seven others died in a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California.

The shock of Bryant’s death remains, as it seemed unreal. To many, it felt as if his death would have shaped the year of 2020. To many people, it is still unreal.  

I still remember the exact moment I found out he had died. I was at a dance recital for one of my peers with eight additional friends. I remember the seating arrangement. I was talking to the person sitting on my right side when the person sitting at the end of the left side of the row leaned over and said, “You guys… Kobe died.” None of us believed him, we thought it was just an internet troll. All nine of us pulled out our phones and immediately opened our web browsers to find that it was true, but we were all in denial. 

Nine people total died in the crash. Other victims in the crash included John Altonelli, his wife, Keri, and daughter Alyssa. There was also Christina Mauser, Sara and Payton Chester, and lastly, the pilot, Ara Zobayan.

“As we approach his one-year anniversary, it saddens our hearts to come to the realization that he’s gone,” said Anthony Davis of the Los Angeles Lakers. “I know I still have trouble with it. You just can’t believe it.” 

Bryant was on his way to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California to coach his daughter when the helicopter crashed. The academy was hosting the Mamba Cup Tournament Series, which is open to all youth basketball teams ranging from grades 2 through 8. All games in the series were canceled following the news of Bryant’s death.

Outside of the academy, fans held an impromptu memorial where they lit candles, laid flowers, and personally closed the gym with handwritten signs.

The Kobe and Gianna public memorial wasn’t held until about a month later, according to USA Today.

Bryant affected many people outside of basketball, myself included. I’ve never been an immense sports fan, but I do enjoy them often. I looked up to Kobe Bryant for his mentality rather than his athleticism. Bryant was known not just for being an incredible basketball player, but for his mindset as well. It is known as the “Mamba Mentality.” In summary it is about having no fear, mastering your craft, and not just wanting to win, but to dominate.   

Drafted to the National Basketball Association right out of high school in 1996, Bryant was named an All-Star in 18 out of his 20 seasons for the Lakers and helped lead the team to five championships. In retirement, Bryant championed for women’s sports and won an Academy Award in 2018 for his animated short film “Dear Basketball.”  

“My heart can take the pounding / My mind can handle the grind / But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye,” he wrote in “Dear Basketball,” the poem that he wrote to announce his retirement that was the basis for the short film.

The Lakers included Bryant’s legacy in their championship rings after they won the title in last year’s season, shortened by the Coronavirus pandemic. Bryant’s jersey numbers, 8 and 24, are also in the rings. He was scheduled to headline the 2020 N.B.A. Hall of Fame nominees, and is expected that a statue will be built in his honor outside of the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.