Kobe Bryant was a loving husband and father, a fierce competitor, one of the greatest basketball players of all time and a future Hall of Famer.
Over his 20 year NBA career he faced controversies, most notably the serious rape allegations in 2003, which were settled out of court. Nevertheless, Bryant went on to become a caring family man, NBA legend and raised tons of money for charity. This competitive spirit brought him 18 All-Star appearances, five NBA championships, two finals MVPs, two Olympic golds and a coveted NBA MVP award for the 2007-08 season.
He was third in the all-time scoring list until the 25 January when current Lakers star, Lebron James, passed him with the 33,644th point of his career. Kobe was courtside, applauding James and embracing him in congratulation. A tweet to Lebron, recognising his achievement, was the last tweet he posted before his helicopter went down in California, claiming his life, his daughter Gianna’s and the lives of seven others.
Both Kobe and Gianna, along with one of Gianna’s teammates and her family, were on their way to a basketball camp, in which Gianna was to play and her father was to coach. Tragically, they never arrived.
Kobe was respected by all, not just basketball players and fans. Footballers to politicians and hockey players to Irish dancers have paid tribute to an all-time great athlete and an all-time great man.
He influenced generations and will continue to inspire many more generations to come. Dallas Mavericks’ European sensation Luka Doncic’s emotional tribute on Instagram was of a moment he shared with Kobe, who played in Europe in his youth, at a game between Dallas and Los Angeles in December. During the game Kobe trash-talked Doncic from his courtside seat, speaking in, to Doncic’s surprise, the Dallas star’s native Slovenian. It was captioned: “Not you!! RIP mamba! Thank you for everything you showed and did for the world.”
F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton shared an image of Kobe and Gianna on social media. He paid tribute saying: “@kobebryant was one of the greatest athletes and such an inspiration to so many including myself.”
Both Luka and Lewis were right. Kobe was one of the greatest and most inspirational athletes to walk the earth, one of the most ferocious competitors and a loving man. His daughter Gianna was bright and promising, both academically and athletically, and inherited her father’s spirit. Hearts across the globe were broken. Those who played with them at their camp were in tears. They’d lost two teammates, sisters and friends, as well as an inspirational coach who drove their desire to win.
May all the victims rest in peace. They will never be forgotten.