When the word got out that celebrated Lakers player Kobe Bryant had died in a tragic Helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others, it was as if the air stood still. Reports of the crash flooded news outlets. It was nearly impossible to be on social media without hearing about the legendary player’s death.
Fans took to social media to express their grief amid the media madness. Instagram stories and grids were plastered with photos of Bryant and Gianna, bonding over what they loved most: basketball. When asked during a late-night interview on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” if Gianna would want to play in the WNBA, Bryant quickly responded, “She does for sure.”
Lebron James, a fellow teammate and close friend of Kobe, communicated his anguish at the loss of the Bryants.
“I’m Not Ready but here I go. Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had!” James wrote on Instagram.
It’s no secret that Bryant was a man who valued the essence of hard work. He’d be the first in the gym and the last one out. Lakers teammate John Celestad recounted the time Kobe broke his right wrist during the 1999-2000 season.
Celestad expected that he’d be the first at the gym in the morning — especially considering that Bryant lived 30 minutes from the practice facility at the time. But as usual, Celestad found Bryant in the gym.
“Kobe was already in a full sweat with a cast on his right arm and dribbling and shooting with his left,” Celestad had said.
However, it wasn’t only Bryant’s dedication to the game that stood out. It was his role as a dad — a “girl dad,” as he once described himself to the late-night show host, Jimmy Kimmel, during a private conversation.
“Kobe was a basketball legend and important to anyone involved with basketball,” said Brian Chapman, head coach of men’s basketball at William Paterson University. “[He was] important to me because all reports are that Kobe was a great father, which is much more significant than what he did on the court.”
Chapman, the father of two girls, was shaken by the emotional turmoil the family must be taking in the aftermath of Bryant and Gianna’s deaths.
“I was at a basketball game when I heard,” he said. “I felt terrible for his daughter that passed and her mom and sisters that will never see her again.”
Those who know and love Bryant can attest to the indelible force the Lakers player had on the court and his dedication as a father to his four daughters. Although Kobe is gone, his legacy as a devoted basketball player and loving father live on with all of those who knew him.