Remembering Kobe Bryant
On January 26th, 2020, the world stood still as news came out that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna (Gigi), and a few of her teammates with their parents, tragically passed away in a helicopter crash. A year later they are still remembered and Kobe’s legacy still lives on to inspire everyone. As we all know Kobe played twenty years for the Los Angeles Lakers, winning five championships, one MVP, and many more achievements during his illustrious career. By the time he retired he was 3rd in scoring and infamously scored an astonishing eighty-one points in one game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006; the second most points scored in an NBA game since Wilt Chamberlain scored one hundred in 1962. His play style showed no fear: Kobe played tenaciously and his career is filled with memorable moments that would make any NBA fan ponder which one was their favorite. When he retired he opened the Mamba Academy in 2018 allowing his mentality, not only for the game of basketball, but for life to continue to spread.
Gigi Bryant was the second oldest daughter of the Bryant family and the only one to follow in her fathers footsteps by playing basketball. At a young age she took on the sport and would eventually start to play competitively in basketball tournaments. Once the Mamba Academy was opened, she, of course, started to play for their basketball team. While on the team she was steadily making a name for herself as her game was very similar to her father’s. Sports Commentator, Elle Duncan, recalls meeting Kobe Bryant and after conversing about her pregnancy, Kobe enthusiastically stated that Gigi was “a monster, a beast.” He went on to say that she was better than him at her age. His last words while they were on that topic was “She’s got it” and Gigi did. It was clear she was next up for greatness and would eventually carry on the Bryant name in the WNBA. Those two would be frequent courtside viewers to any NBA, WNBA, and College games. In fact, the day before their deaths they were at a game in Philadelphia to watch the 76ers play against the Lakers.
John Altobelli along with his wife and daughter, Keri and Alyssa, were also on board the helicopter with Kobe and Gigi Bryant. John was a baseball coach at Orange Coast College and left his own mark in his respected community. In his coaching career, he was a four time state championship winner and was beloved by his players. His daughter Alyssa played on the same team as Gigi and through that he became very close to Kobe. The bond became so strong that Kobe would eventually give John’s baseball team his very own pep talk. The Altobelli’s story lives on through their Eldest son JJ, their daughter Lexi, as well as through the countless others John was able to touch during his tenure of coaching. Other casualties in the crash were Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan. Sarah Chester was Payton’s mother and their memory survives through Sarah’s husband, Chris, and their sons, Hayden and Riley Chester. Christina Mauser was the Mamba Academy girl’s basketball assistant coach and will be remembered by her husband Matt and their three children. Ara Zobayan was the pilot of the helicopter that day and our thoughts and prayers go out to not only his family, but to each and every one who was affected by this devastation.
To this day, Kobe Bryant is still in everyday life whether it comes to basketball or life in general. In basketball there will always be players wearing Bryant’s signature shoe, no matter their level of play, gender, or nationality. As the game continues we will eventually see more and more players who will continue to pass on Kobe’s legacy. Phoenix Suns’ Guard Devin Booker, Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young, and New York Liberty's Sabrina Ionescu, are just a few that will carry on the tradition Kobe laid out during his life. Devin Booker writes “Be Legendary” on his shoes every game as well as getting a tattoo of that saying in remembrance of what Kobe had told him back when they first met in 2016. Trae Young was told by Gigi herself that he was her favorite player to watch and he hopes to continue to make Kobe and Gigi proud as they watch from above. Lastly, Sabrina Ionescu was able to workout with Kobe Bryant during her playing days in Oregon and would eventually grow a friendship with the whole family. She still keeps in contact with Kobe’s oldest daughter, Natalia, along with the rest of the family. For us, even if we have never met Kobe Bryant, we can continue to keep his legacy alive by reliving our favorite moments of his career or simply by continuing the tradition of saying, “Kobe!” after shooting garbage into a trash can. Although he may be gone, the Mamba’s memory will forever be with us.