Dear Kobe Bryant

By: Caitlyn Yu

What you meant to the game of basketball needs no explanation. 

NBA All-Rookie Second Team, NBA Slam Dunk Contest Champion, three-time NBA All-Defensive Second Team, nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team, two-time All-NBA Third Team, two-time All-NBA Second Team, 11-time All-NBA First Team, two-time NBA Scoring Champion, fourth on the NBA All-Time Scoring List, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, 18-time NBA All-Star, four-time NBA All-Star Game MVP, 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player, five-time NBA Champion, two-time NBA Finals MVP, and I’ll say it now, 2020 James Naismith Pro Basketball Hall of Fame Inductee. 

Your career was more than just statistics and accolades. Your story was written on the narrative of great discipline and dedication. 

From the moment you entered the NBA, you vowed to one day dethrone the ghost in Chicago. Many laughed, many doubted, many did not believe. 

But you believed, and that’s all that mattered.

On your path, you built a reputation of hard work. Players over the course of your career can attest to seemingly unbelievable amount of hours you spent by yourself in the gym shooting, or the unbelievable early hours you’d wake up to, to get in a lift.

To many, it was almost as if you weren’t human. You brought intensity not only to the work done on the court, but to the work done behind closed doors. You were never secretive about the process—always open and honest. There was never any magic involved, just hard work.

Throughout your career, you never let failures, obstacles, or limitations sit on your mind or heart.

Whether it was the 3 straight air balls in Utah, the laundry list of injuries in 2000-01, or the torn Achilles in 2013, you always responded with passion and perseverance. 

Your work ethic was notorious. The stories are endless. For 20 years, you redefined what it meant to work hard and created a mentality that has become synonymous with your legacy. 

The “Mamba Mentality” may have been created by a basketball player, but it transcends sport. It was for anyone with a goal or a dream that would do anything to accomplish it. The Mamba Mentality was about going out and achieving that goal, conquering that dream. 

In the second half of your career, you made 24 more than just your jersey number. You made it the number of hard-working hours one should aim to meet every day. 

Kobe, we mourn your loss, and we mourn the loss of your daughter, Gianna. 

There is no doubt that she was ready to carry your torch in the game of basketball. Losing you was losing a large piece of basketball history, but losing Gianna was losing a large piece of basketball future. 

We mourn the loss of the other seven passengers, whose families have also been devastated by these unforeseen events. You’ve done so much for the game of basketball on the court, but many believe you were about to out-do yourself in your post-retirement. 

An NBA star of the past, you were a mentor to the stars of the future. It’s been four years since you hung up your jersey, but your proteges keep your game alive. There is Kobe in DeMar DeRozan’s footwork, Devin Booker’s midrange game, Kyrie Irving’s 5-on-1 mentality, and in almost every player in today’s league.

You took the time to work out with players who sought you out, teaching them the moves in your arsenal, but one didn’t have to know you personally to learn from you. Your “Detail” video series educated fans and children, allowing them to recreate the Mamba’s moves in their driveways. The “Kobe Pipeline” will be generational. You were a huge advocate for women’s basketball and the WNBA. Your support wasn’t just reflected through words, but through actions. You showed up to games and supported many female athletes on their journeys. Whether they are professional, collegiate, or AAU, there are countless female athletes today practicing the Mamba Mentality. And you were just getting started on your mission to champion women in sports. 

You were also a vocal advocate for the future of sports on a global scale. Your goal was to inspire as many athletes as you could and equip them with all with the tools needed to achieve success. The Mamba Sports Academy was just the beginning, serving as an incubator for athletes of all sports to work hard and chase their dreams. 

But you were more than just basketball. You reached out to athletes across all disciplines, giving stars like Novak Djokovic the confidence to push through injury and teaching others like Neymar how to navigate fame. You set the example for how to be a superstar role model and taught us all how to be professionals on and off the court.

Although you’re gone, your legacy is immortal. 

As basketball fans, we are grateful for the privilege to witness you create art on the court. 

As athletes, we are grateful for the mentality you pushed onto us to be our best selves. As human beings, we are grateful for the inspiration you gave us to chase our dreams. 

Thank you for your love of basketball, your dedication to sports, and your commitment to excellence. 

Thank you, Kobe.


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