I remember sitting on the couch with my dad and watching you play with the same competitiveness you had against all teams. Through the screen I could see your ambition of wanting the ball.
When you had the ball in your hand, your goal was to make the basket. It could have been to remain in the lead, tie the game or make the winning shot at the buzzer for the win.
I’ll never forget my first Lakers game on May 1, 2011. It was the first playoff game against the Dallas Mavericks. The energy in the arena was exploding with Laker fans of all ages and ethnicities. Everyone came together to cheer on our favorite team until the end.
We were losing by two points in the last seconds of the game and had the last possession. Everyone began to yell, “Give it to Kobe,” knowing you were the one to shoot a three-pointer for the win.
We lost that night, but you never lost your aspiration to come back stronger.
You gave 20 years to the Lakers knowing full well you could have gotten up and left to another team. Yet you stayed and broke records as numbers 8 and 24.
You got injured and you would still get up on your feet and walk out to the court. Limitations would try and stop you, and in return, you came back stronger every time.
At 10 a.m.Jan. 26, news broke out everywhere that you passed away. The first thought that came to mind was that it’s a lie.
Someone must have made up this lie to become famous for a minute and freak fans out.
But then news organizations confirmed your death, and social media was filled with posts mourning your death.
Basketball wasn’t just a sport to you; it was your passion. If you were the best, it was because you worked hard every day to get there.
Nothing magically came to you. You inspired me to work hard and shoot my shot, knowing if I miss there will be another opportunity ahead.
Any time I run and get injured, I know it will heal, and I have to get back up to learn from my mistakes. To limit my potential against others is the lowest position to put myself in.
Because as you taught me with the “Mamba Mentality,” you have to work diligently at your passion in order to break records. But it wasn’t just about the records, your mentality expanded beyond sports and inspired us to be the MVP in our own game.
You were able to hold up an Oscar, championship trophies, a basketball and your hands as you said goodbye to us after your final victory.
Now it was time to pass the torch to your daughter Gianna. You were with her until the last second, and the love you both shared for the game will never die.
Thank you, Kobe, for everything you gave us. For bringing together Laker fans across the world and being the energy Los Angeles will never lose. You will continue to inspire future generations because your legacy is eternal.
As you said before, “Life is too short to get bogged down and be discouraged. You have to keep moving. You have to keep going. Put one foot in front of the other, smile and just keep on rolling.”
Rest in peace, Kobe Bryant. Mamba forever. 1/26/20.