On Sunday, Jan. 26, the world was rocked by the news that Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles, Calif.
Bryant was drafted by the Charlotte Hornets in 1996, however he was traded the same day to the Los Angeles Lakers and played his entire 20 season career for the Lakers.
While he was with the Lakers, they won five championship victories. Bryant also won two Olympic gold medals for Team USA. Bryant won an Oscar for his animated short film “Dear Basketball” in 2017.
Bryant’s successes created a legacy that inspired a new generation of players, including the Kirkwood Community College Men’s basketball team.
“I believe that Kobe’s death had a big impact on both our players and the coaching staff. A lot of people got involved with basketball because they grew up watching him play,” said Kirkwood Community College Men’s Basketball Head Coach, Tim Sandquist.
Bryant continued to be active in basketball by coaching youth leagues. He and the other passengers onboard the helicopter were on their way to a tournament in which his daughter and two other passengers planned to play and he and another were to coach.
Celebrities and sports teams throughout the world have been affected by his death.
Former teammate Lamar Odom said in People Magazine, “Anyone who knows my story knows I’ve suffered a lot of loss but the only loss I can compare this to is when I lost my son.”
Professional basketball teams like the Spurs took 24-second shot clock violations in honor of Bryant’s long-time jersey number with the Lakers. The National Basketball Association is waiving the waiting period to induct Bryant into the hall of fame.
Bryant was a hero and inspiration for many players, student collegiate and professional athletes wrote his jersey numbers on their shoes for their games following his death.
Student athlete D. J. Purnell, a men’s basketball player at Kirkwood, said, “Kobe Bryant was my hero. He played in the first professional game I watched. It was the Lakers vs. the Timberwolves in 2006. It inspired me to play.”
Gacoby Jones, also a player for Kirkwood, said, “I started watching Kobe play when I was five. He’s left a big impact on basketball and my life.”
Bryant was one of the highest scoring players of all time, only in the days before his death did LeBron James surpass his record. Bryant lived long enough to congratulate his former teammate.
Bryant left behind his wife, Vanessa, and their three daughters. Gianna Bryant’s school retired her number 2 with a public memorial held in her school’s gym.
A public memorial will be held in The Staples Center on Feb. 24 as the date corresponds with both Gianna and Kobe’s jersey’s numbers.
An investigation in to the cause of the accident is ongoing and is not expected to be concluded for several months.