White Station remembers Kobe Bryant’s legacy

Kobe+Bryant+takes+his+shot+against+the+Utah+Jazz.+On+Sunday%2C+Jan.+26%2C+Bryant+and+his+daughter+Gianna+died+in+a+helicopter+crash.

Google Images

Kobe Bryant takes his shot against the Utah Jazz. On Sunday, Jan. 26, Bryant and his daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash.

Advertisement

Five Championships, four daughters, third in the NBA all-time scoring list, two Olympic medals, one academy award. These accomplishments make up former Lakers basketball player Kobe Bryant’s life. For many, his presence was ubiquitous. Looking through the halls, it was common to see a Lakers number 24 jersey or hear “Kobe” being shouted as a paper ball was thrown into a garbage bin.

But now these have a different meaning and a more sullen tone. On Sunday, Jan. 26, Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash with eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant. Upon hearing the news, non-sports fans and Kobe fans alike felt a state of shock and disbelief.

“I think because we see athletes as indestructible. We see athletes as heroes. We see athletes as role models. The reality is there’s not ever a way to think when it is your time to go. If it can happen to a hero, then it can happen to anyone. That’s why people are in shock,” basketball coach Jesus Patino said.

The NBA juggernaut started his career fresh out of high school, deciding to skip college and go straight into the NBA. Initially drafted by the Charlotte Hornets at the age of 17, he traded to the Los Angeles Lakers where he soon became an NBA icon. In the 20 seasons he played as a Laker, he received the Most Valuable Player Award, five championship rings and two Olympic gold medals.

This is not to say that he is without fault. For some, it’s difficult to forget the 2003 sexual assault charge against Bryant. But morality isn’t black and white, and since the alleged attack, Bryant has tried to make amends by creating the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation that helps fight against youth homelessness. In addition, he gave back to veterans and provided after school programs for 72,000 inner city kids with the national children’s charity After- School All Stars. Although this cannot excuse his alleged actions, his charitableness has undeniably become a part of his legacy and redemption.

“[Bryant] had given back all the success he had and gave it back to the community, gave back to the game,” Patino said.  “Everyday try to help somebody else. We’re kind of self centered, and we should live trying to give back instead of take, take, take.”

He touched the lives of celebrities, pregnant reporters and fellow White Station students and coaches.

“I’ve been playing basketball since I was 10-years-old. He showed me that hard work brings success; if you work harder than anyone else, you will reap the benefits of it,” Ben Nganga (11), who takes this Mamba mentality in both the sports and academic world, said.

Patino had a more personal encounter with Bryant, after meeting him at the Nike Academy in Los Angeles.

“I was outside waiting to speak to the coaches and speak to the players, and we were having the academy in some [airport] hangars. I was standing outside, and I saw Kobe land that same helicopter outside. He said hi to all of us. First-class, great kid— and it impacted me because I got to know him, and I respected what he stood for,” Patino said.

Bryant will continue to live in the hearts of sports fans and young people for long to come. He will not only be remembered as a basketball icon, but also as a symbol for hard work and dedication.

 

“You asked for my hustle

I gave you my heart

Because it came with so much more”–Dear Basketball by Kobe Bryant