The Day Kobe Bryant Died

To sum up what Mamba Mentality is, it means to be able to constantly try to be the best version of yourself. That is what the Mentality is.

Kobe Bean Bryant

Not Kobe. Not like this!

I don’t get it. How can he be gone? How could GiGi be gone too? Their stories were not done being written yet. It wasn’t supposed to end like this. Not like this. Yesterday, we all were shaken to our core over what happened — Kobe Bryant, his 13-year old daughter Gianna, and seven others (including two other children) perished in a helicopter accident near Kobe’s Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, California.

When I first heard the news, I didn’t think it was real. How could it be? Kobe Bryant died? The Black Mamba? Kobe can’t die! How? I never even thought it was possible. Kobe gave the impression that he would live forever and I know I’m not alone in feeling like this. I know we all will have our day, it’s a part of humanity. Life and death is part of the journey, but for some reason, Kobe seemed above that. Everything that Kobe did, he did with “Mamba Mentality”. From playing basketball, to being a father, he was great at everything … so of course we never had it in our minds he could leave this way. Not like this.


I was born and raised in Los Angeles. Kobe made an impact on my city. On my family. I’ve been blessed to witness his entire career. From a 17-year old with a broken hand taking rookie pictures, to winning 3-straight titles with Shaq, to Kobe’s lowest point in his life, then to watch Kobe come back from that, win titles, become a father and a husband, and close out his Lakers career with a magical 60-point night. It was a story I treasured being a part of. It was a story I wanted to still be a part of. I didn’t think the story would end so soon. Not like this.

If it was just Kobe on the helicopter that went down, it would still be a tragedy. However, his daughter, 13-year old GiGi, who was always with him when he went to Lakers games, was of course with him in the helicopter as they went down. Two more children were on the helicopter as well, resulting in the loss of life of three kids … leaving multiple families in mourning. When that news came out, it made the tragedy even more tragic. No parent should have to bury their child. Ever. I just became a father this past August. I couldn’t wrap myself around this subject without feeling sick. I just can’t. Not like this. Kobe’s mom and dad will have to embrace each other as they see their little boy lowered into the earth. Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife and Gianna’s mom, will have to watch as her little baby girl is placed gently next to her father. A family is now shattered, broken. A city is hurting and in mourning. Maybe not just the city. Maybe the world.

On his last game in 2016, I went to my mom’s house with my wife to watch it. My brothers also showed up, so it was all of us watching Kobe’s last game. As the shots keep going on, more and more tears fill my eyes as I am realizing this is IT. This is the last game of Kobe Bryant’s career. We saw it all. The good and the bad. While Kobe was ready to say goodbye to basketball, we weren’t ready to say goodbye to him on the court, but we also knew that it was time. I vividly remember not giving a shit about the Warriors quest for 73-wins and just focusing on Kobe. As the game ended, my brothers and I embraced, wiping tears from our faces … treasuring the moment we had just witnessed.

The day Kobe Bryant died will be one of those days we all remember where we were. I was in shock, like is this real? Is this a hoax? Sure enough, it wasn’t and the nightmare began to unfold before our eyes. Lives were cut short in an instant. Children gone before realizing their true potential. Coaches that spent years molding young minds are now gone. As a father, that is a nightmare I hope to never experience personally. Yet, I feel the loss as if Kobe was a member of my family. I feel this loss deeply, as I am sure you all do.

Allow me to give you my final thoughts: We will never get to see Kobe deliver his speech when he makes the Hall of Fame this fall. Knowing Kobe, he probably wrote his speech when he was 18-years old. That will be an emotional day, to say the least. Earlier today, NBA reporter Shams Charania wrote on Twitter that Kobe is essentially in the Hall of Fame and he does not need to be voted in. We will never get to see Kobe unveil his own statue outside Staples Center, a place where he helped bring 5 NBA titles. We will never get to see Kobe on the sidelines, watching Gianna play in the WNBA. We won’t get to see old-man Kobe, something I really wanted to witness.

Rest in peace to:

  • Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant
  • John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli
  • Sarah and Payton Chester
  • Christina Mauser
  • Ara Zobayan

Yesterday when I was struggling with words, Bill Plaschke of the LA Times wrote an article and closed it so beautifully, so perfectly, that I am using it here.

“Kobe Bryant is gone and, so, too, is a little bit of all of us.”

– Bill Plaschke

Kobe, I miss you man. I love you, my brother. Like you were one of my own, because … you were. Thank you for giving us EVERYTHING. I will teach my son the Mamba Mentality.

With Love,

Brandon

@rosenthalsports

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