Kobe Bryant: You Are Missed

Kobe+Bryant%2C+Lakers+shooting+guard%2C+stands+ready+to+shoot+a+free+throw+during+a+pre-season+game+against+the+Golden+State+Warriors+in+2005.+Bryant+was+essential+in+bringing+together+a+large+point+gap+late+in+the+second+quarter%2C+after+the+Warriors+took+the+early+lead.

Joe Johnson/Wikimedia Commons

Kobe Bryant, Lakers shooting guard, stands ready to shoot a free throw during a pre-season game against the Golden State Warriors in 2005. Bryant was essential in bringing together a large point gap late in the second quarter, after the Warriors took the early lead.

Harrison Kemmer, Reporter

Kobe Bryant – 20 seasons, 18 all-star selections, 11-time first team NBA, 5 championships, 33,643 points – tragically died alongside his daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash. Bryant was going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year. He still will be inducted, but sadly will not be able to be there to accept the award. As an NBA fan and a fan of basketball in general, this was terribly sad news for me and others. He left a lasting influence on anyone who loved basketball, and he left the earth better than it was before him.. He was an NBA changing player, as he could shoot and had moves like no one else before.  

My fondest Kobe memory was his 60-point game in his finale. I was playing baseball and when I finished I got in the car and checked my phone. An alert popped up and said Kobe Bryant drops 60 in his last game. I thought to myself, “WOW,” this man is 37 and is retiring, yet he has the drive to carry his Lakers to victory one more time. With his wife Vanessa and daughters Gianna and Natalia sitting courtside, the Lakers beat the Jazz 101-96. 

After his death, I learned more about him as a person. The reason he had a helicopter in the first place was because he wanted to take his daughters to school, then go to the Lakers’ practice. Finally, he wanted to be back in the carpool line to pick his children up from school. Because of the Los Angeles traffic, driving a car around to do all of the things he had to do on his busy day was not an option. 

He took great pride in Gianna’s love of the game, as her goal was to play in the WNBA. Bryant, alongside his former agent, Rob Pelinka, coached his daughter’s travel basketball team. Bryant and Gianna spent countless hours honing her skills, as well as sitting courtside at many basketball games. One of the saddest parts for me, is that Gianna barely had the chance to get started in her basketball career. She loved the UCONN Huskies and they left two seats empty for her and her father in their first game since the fateful Sunday. My favorite memory of Bryant and Gianna was when he was on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2018. He was telling a story about what happened when he met fans sometimes. The fans would tell Bryant that he and Vanessa needed to have a boy, so the legacy would keep going. Kobe laughed as he said, “Gianna would say, ‘Hey, I got this.’”

As the NBA family mourns the death of Bryant, teams have been taking 24 second violations and 8 second violations to honor him. Those were Bryant’s numbers: 8 for his first ten seasons and 24 for his last 10 seasons. Along with the violations, teams have been showing tributes on their big screen to honor Bryant and his legacy. The Lakers game against the Clippers was postponed to show respect for the organization. When the Lakers played the Trail Blazers, it was the first they had played since Bryant’s death. Usher sang “Amazing Grace” and Ben Hong played the cello while a video remembering Bryant played above. Finally, Lebron James spoke out before the game about Kobe Bryant’s life and legacy.

Many NBA players and players from other leagues have tweeted heartfelt messages for Bryant. The two that moved me most were Shaquille O’Neal and James. O’Neal said he loved Bryant and was extremely sad that his niece Gigi had died. James said he will carry on Bryant’s legacy. I predict that the Lakers will win the title this year for Bryant. When all someone says is one word and people around the room are moved, you know the legacy is real. KOBE!