Kobe Bryant recently passed away, along with his daughter and 7 others on board, in a horrific helicopter crash and left a huge hole in the lives of many. It is an instance that will stay with people forever. You will always remember where you were sitting, what you were watching, or which friend texted you the link to one of the most tragic sports stories in the last decade.
Kobe Bryant’s legacy is a complicated one. He rose to notoriety as a teenager, hailed as the second coming of Michael Jordan at a young age, mainly because that was his goal and he outwardly spoke about it. He famously skipped over college to try his hand in the NBA and, after a move from the Charlotte Hornets on draft night, found himself on one of the most storied franchises in sports history, the Los Angeles Lakers.
As a Laker, Kobe had a fractured relationship with players, coaches, and fans alike. He was notoriously a “me first” superstar and had a brashness that rubbed many the wrong way. He feuded, most famously, with teammate Shaquille O’Neal and coach Phil Jackson, which were two of the biggest reasons, other than Kobe, that the Lakers won three consecutive titles between 2000 and 2002.
But one thing Kobe’s fans and critics couldn’t argue was his desire, or desperation, to win. The other thing no one could deny was that Kobe, despite all of his weaknesses, was one of the greatest players in NBA history.
Kobe Bryant’s story begins with his father, Joe Bryant, and Kobe’s unorthodox childhood. Bryant was born on August 23rd, 1978 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to father Joe “Jellybean” Bryant and mother Pam. Bryant’s parents were originally from Philly and his father Joe spent his first four years in the NBA, 1975-79, playing for the 76ers.
Kobe’s father Joe was a serviceable pro player, averaging 8 points and 4 rebounds over his eight-year NBA career. The life of a pro athlete’s family is never an easy one and after Joe Bryant completed his NBA career, he played for several teams in the Italian Basketball League, where Kobe spent all of his childhood and some teen years.
Bryant’s love for the game of basketball and will to be the best ever began while he was in Italy. Old friends and Italian townspeople who remembered the Bryant family recall Kobe’s work ethic and the amount of time they saw a young Kobe shooting hoops across the street at the local church playground. In all intents and purposes, Italy is where Bryant claims his childhood and formative years and the country held a very special place in his heart.
It didn’t hurt that Kobe’s dad was very successful while playing in Italy and even won two Player of the Year Awards overseas. Kobe was known well in town and when he played on the local youth teams it was easy to see that his skill completely overmatched the players around him. An old teammate and longtime friend Davide Giudici talks about Kobe as in another league athletically than most were used to:
“When he moved to Reggio Emilia and started playing in my team, it was immediately clear he was from another planet, a cut above us all” – NBC News
Bryant even told his friends and teammates from an early age in Italy that he had planned on playing in the NBA. Giudici remembers them laughing at him at the time but the older Kobe got, the more serious his friends realized he was. He obviously had the pedigree from his father’s experience as a pro athlete but he put the extra work in that most kids his age didn’t.
“…he worked hard for it even back then. At the end of our training, the rest of us would just go watch TV or do other things. Kobe, instead, would go home and keep training with the basket his father put up for him in his garden.” – NBC News
Kobe would eventually leave Italy at the age of 13 when his father’s time in the Italian League was complete. He always looked very fondly of his time in Italy. He learned to speak fluent Italian and would regularly speak it, including Spanish, during his pre and post-game interviews with international reporters. Just one more reason why Kobe was beloved around the World.
When he returned to the states he began to build his myth among the basketball circles as a special high school player that would eventually become a superstar in the NBA, but his time spent in Italy never left him, and neither did the friendship between Giudici and him. Giudici last spoke with Kobe in 2016, when the superstar retired.
Lower Merion: Kobe Before the NBA
When Kobe returned to the States for good – he would frequently come back during his father’s offseasons in the Italian League to play summer basketball in the US – he focused on making his high school team, the Lower Merion Aces, in Philadelphia.
Kobe actually made his high school varsity team as a freshman, becoming one of the only freshmen to ever start for the Aces. Kobe’s freshman year was helpful to get him acclimated to the speed of the high school game as a 14-year old, but the team finished with a 4-20 record in a rather unforgettable season. The following three years, Kobe’s Lower Merion team went an astonishing 77-13 and won the Pennsylvania Player of the Year Award his junior year.
Bryant was getting recruited heavily by the best college basketball programs in the country while in high school. His list included Duke, North Carolina, and the school virtually in his Philadelphia backyard in Villanova. But after the recent success of Kevin Garnett entering the league straight out of high school, and Kobe’s desire to play in the pros, Bryant ultimately chose to skip college and pursue his NBA dream earlier than expected.
Bryant’s decision to skip college was met with some skepticism by his critics. The trend of high schoolers opting to forego college for the pro game was relatively new and many didn’t think Bryant was mature enough to make the leap. Little did everyone know the overwhelming passion Kobe possessed about the game of basketball and the drive and desire to be the absolute best that ever played the game.
The 1996 NBA Draft
Kobe’s Los Angeles Lakers pre-draft workouts were the stuff of legend among NBA circles. Laker great and current Laker GM Jerry West didn’t really have Bryant on his draft radar but decided to have him work out with another draftee, Dantae’ Jones who was fresh off of leading his Mississippi State squad to the Final Four. They played several one-on-one games against each other and Bryant dominated the workout, to everyone’s dismay. West had to see more.
The next workout was to be more challenging as the Lakers decided to have Kobe play against Michael Cooper, a beloved Laker from the ‘Showtime’ years and a former NBA Defensive Player of the Year. After only 25 minutes of the workout, West proclaimed that Kobe was better than anyone on the Laker roster at the time. He was set on getting him to their team and had an idea to make it happen.
The Lakers were also looking for some big talent in free agency and had their eye on Shaquille O’Neal. They worked out a trade with the Hornets to send Vlade Divac to them to dump his salary and also instructed the Hornets who to select at 13 in the ‘96 Draft. The Hornets selected Kobe Bryant who would never play a minute there because he was going to LA as part of the Divac trade.
Kobe in the NBA
The Early Years
Kobe’s debut in LA was a hot ticket. Bryant had impressed many during the NBA’s Summer League in Las Vegas, averaging 25 points in four games. It didn’t hurt that the Lakers had just picked up Shaq and were primed for a title run after what seemed like a drought in Lakers’ terms.
While Kobe dazzled in Summer League, he mainly played a backup role during his rookie year, deferring minutes to solid veterans like Eddie Jones and Nick Van Exel. Kobe did, however, become the youngest player to ever play in an NBA game and the youngest starter when he was asked to fill in for the veterans throughout the season.
An early career highlight came during All-Star Weekend when Bryant beat out the likes of Michael Finley and Ray Allen to win the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest. The clip of the contest shows a young Kobe with all of the confidence and brashness that we learned to expect from the future 18-time All-Star throughout his career. What is most telling about this though is the fact that he is only 18 years old and you can already tell the spotlight didn’t phase him.
Another sign of Kobe not shying away from a big moment was during Game 5 of the series against the Utah Jazz. The Lakers were short-handed and Shaq had already fouled out of the game so Kobe decided to take charge. It was not a memorable moment for Kobe’s legacy, however, and Kobe ended up shooting four airballs in the final minutes. He did gain immense respect from his teammates, most notably Shaq, and they all saw he was fearless.
1997-99: Becoming a Star
Kobe was ready for his sophomore campaign and his early play showed that his off-season preparation paid off. He began the season scoring 23 points in a blowout win against the Jazz, a small piece of retribution from their series the year prior. Kobe scored in double figures in 17 of his first 20 games of the season and the Lakers won the first 11 games of the year.
The Lakers won 61 games that year, finished first in the Western Conference, and Kobe upped his scoring average almost 10 points from his rookie campaign. He increased every important statistical category upping his rebounding and assist totals too. This showed the growth in his overall strength and maturity and people began to realize that he wasn’t just a scorer.
The Lakers made it to the Western Conference Finals eventually falling to the Utah Jazz for the second straight year. They were beginning to build great team chemistry and put the league on notice that Shaq, Kobe, and the rest of the Lakers were a force to be dealt with for the foreseeable future.
The 1998-99 season saw Kobe jump directly into a leadership role in year three. It was an odd year for the league in general with a 50-game shortened season due to a league-wide lockout. The Lakers saw this progression of skill and leadership in Kobe and made way for his talents trading Nick Van Exel and Eddie Jones to give Kobe room to blossom as a player and team leader.
Kobe and Shaq shined during the year, scoring 46 points between the two, but the results were the same, unfortunately. The Lakers were swept by the eventual champions, the San Antonio Spurs, and they knew they had work to do to get over the imaginary hump of championship-level success. Enter new coach for the 1999-200 season, Phil Jackson.
2000-2002: The Three-Peat
Kobe’s numbers again took a leap once Phil Jackson took over. The former Bulls coach, and winner of six NBA titles in eight years, was a master, not only in the game of basketball but also with the mental aspect that so few players and coaches truly understood. Jackson coached the greatest ever in Michael Jordan and taught him how to be a great teammate and win with a team around him instead of trying to do it all alone.
The 1999-2000 regular season went as well as it could go. The Lakers won 67 games and Kobe Bryant emerged as a leader of the Lakers and his relationship with Shaq, something that was always up and down due to the differences in their personality, was strong enough to finish with the best record in the league. The Lakers rolled into the playoffs with Kobe averaging over 22 points per game on almost 50% shooting from the field.
The 2000 playoffs were a true challenge for the Lakers. They were pushed to the final game in the first round against a feisty Sacramento Kings team and then handled the Phoenix Suns four games to one to set up a Western Conference Finals matchup with the gritty Portland Trailblazers led by Rasheed Wallace, Damon Stoudemire, Scottie Pippen, and Detlef Shrempf.
The Trailblazers took the Lakers to seven games and were up 15 to start the 4th quarter of Game 7 before the Lakers took charge. The most memorable play of Game 7 was an alley-oop from Kobe to Shaq late in the game that solidified the big Lakers win and showed the dominance that Kobe and Shaq were capable of when playing on the same page.
The NBA Finals that year seemed to be a foregone conclusion against the Indiana Pacers. They were simply outmatched by the Lakers and, while the Pacers stole a couple of games at home behind the play of Reggie Miller and Jalen Rose, the Lakers were too much. Kobe’s first NBA championship was complete after just four years in the league. He was only 21. The Lakers had a nucleus and were poised to build off of Shaq and Kobe for years to come.
The 2000-01 season saw Kobe’s scoring numbers shoot up six points to 28 per game. Bryant also led the team in assists with 5 per game. While the growing rift between Kobe and Shaq was beginning to play out on the court or in post-game press conferences at times, the Lakers still managed to win 56 games in 2000-01 and rolled into the playoffs with “NBA Title or Bust” expectations. And roll they did once they entered the 2001 playoffs.
The Lakers finished with a playoff record of 15-1 on the way to their second straight NBA Finals, sweeping the Kings, Trailblazers, and Spurs in the first three rounds. Kobe averaged 29 points per game in the playoffs en route to a date with the Eastern Conference Champs, the Philadelphia 76ers led by Allen Iverson.
It was more of the same story in the Finals although the Sixers did manage to steal Game 1 from the Lakers at home in LA to end the chance at a perfect 16-0 NBA Playoff record. But it didn’t matter and the Lakers imposed their will on an overmatched 76er team. It was another successful season for Bryant. He made All-NBA second team, All-Defense, and was named to his third straight All-Star team. He was beginning to cement himself as an NBA superstar.
The 2001-02 season was a true test for Kobe, Shaq, Phil Jackson, and the Lakers. Even though it had only been 4 years since the Bulls three-peated from 1996-1998, the three-peat in any sport was nearly impossible. Since the Celtics dynasty in the ‘60s only the Bulls, with the greatest player ever in Michael Jordan, had three-peated. The odds were certainly stacked against the Lakers at the start of 2001.
That didn’t phase Kobe though. He averaged 25 points on a career-high .469% shooting percentage and played 80 regular-season games for the first time in his career. Due to his tireless work in the offseason, his body was maturing and he was able to physically handle the demands of an entire NBA season. He also won his first All-Star Game MVP, NBA All-Defense, and was named All-NBA First Team for the first time in his career.
The Lakers finished 58-24 and entered that season’s playoffs the third seed behind the upstart Sacramento Kings and San Antonio Spurs. The Lakers swept the Portland Trailblazers in the first round and handled the series favorite Spurs easily four games to one in the second round. This set up a matchup with the Kings, who had been knocking at the Western Conference elite’s doors for the past few years.
The Lakers and Kings split the first two games in Sacramento and went to LA tied 1-1. Kobe had 30 points in Game 1 but struggled in Game 2, suffering from food poisoning which many believed was a deliberate act from hotel staff in Sacramento. Game 3 was dominated by the Kings which set up a memorable Game 4.
The Lakers found themselves down by as much as 24 points in the first half during Game 4. They fought back over the second half and found themselves down 2 with the ball. Kobe missed a layup, Shaq missed the putback but the ball was tipped back to Robert Horry for an improbable last-second three-pointer by Horry. The series was now tied 2-2 going back to Sacramento.
Game 5 was won by the Kings. Bryant led the Lakers with 30 points but missed the final shot. This set up one of the most famous Game 6’s, and most controversial moments in NBA history.
Many believe the game was handed to the Lakers in an attempt to keep the series going and because Los Angeles was a better known team with a larger market than Sacramento. In any event, the Lakers won Game 6 and 7 to set up a date with the New Jersey Nets for the title.
If the Western Conference Finals was one of the best, most hard-fought series in NBA history, the Finals were the exact opposite. The Nets never stood a chance and were swept by the Lakers for their third straight title.
2002-2004: Three-Peat Hangover
The following two seasons after the Lakers’ first three-peat was successful by other franchise’s standards but eventually led to a lackluster performance by Kobe and the rest of the team. Bryant was spectacular in the ‘02-’03 season averaging 30 points per game for the first time in his career. He finished third in MVP voting for the season but the Lakers’ season ended abruptly to the Spurs in the Western Conference Semifinals.
The 2003-04 season saw a different Laker team than in the previous years. The team picked up veterans Karl Malone and Gary Payton in an attempt to firm up their bench unit and breathe some life into a team that had been physically and mentally exhausted from the past four seasons.
The Lakers finished first in the West heading into postseason play. The Western Conference was noticeably better than the East and the Lakers were primed to run away with the NBA title if they could just get through the Western Conference side of the bracket. The Lakers had no real trouble through the Western Conference and rolled into the Finals looking for their fourth title in five years if they could only get through a tough Pistons team.
It wasn’t meant to be and the Pistons upset the Lakers in five games. Kobe was targeted after the series as having a bad five games and not playing team ball. He ended the series averaging 22 points on only 35% shooting.
2005-2007: New Beginnings
After the 2004 disappointment against the Pistons, the Lakers went through some major changes. Phil Jackson left the team and was replaced by future Hall of Famer Rudy Tomjanovich. After years of feuding, Shaq fled to the Miami Heat to start his own championship run. This left Kobe and a bunch of unproven talent. 13 of the teams’ 16 players had five years or less experience in the league. They failed to make the playoffs for the first time in Kobe’s career.
2005-06 and 2006-07 were much of the same uncertainty around the team, although Phil Jackson came back to coach the team. They did make the playoffs both years but lost in the first round in both years. Losing didn’t sit well with Kobe and it showed in his public persona. While he was excelling individually on the court – he averaged 33 points over 2 seasons – he was feuding publicly with several respected NBA veterans, including teammate Karl Malone.
The league was having a difficult time figuring out what to do with Kobe’s me-first game as well. He won the scoring title in 2005-06 yet finished fourth overall in MVP voting and the MVP winner, Steve Nash, was well known as a team-first player with arguably much worse stats than Kobe. Dating back to his time in Italy as a kid, Kobe was an ultimate loner and later would admit to thinking that he tried to do too much on his own during the years after Shaq left the Lakers.
2007-2010: Second Dynasty & MVP Kobe
The 2007-08 season began with another Laker roster mini overhaul. They added two great role players in Trevor Ariza and Derek Fisher and a legitimate All-Star in Pau Gasol for the 2008 title run. Kobe’s season, both on a team and individual level was impressive. The Lakers began to look like a cohesive unit winning 10 straight games midway through the season and ending the year as the one-seed in the Western Conference.
They swept the Denver Nuggets in round 1 and beat the Jazz and Spurs handily in rounds 2 and 3. This set up a matchup between the Lakers and Celtics, the two most storied franchises in NBA history. The Celtics were led by a “Big Three” of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen and played very well together as a team. The Lakers struggled against the Celtics dominance and fell in 6 games.
Kobe’s season was an overall success. Granted, he didn’t win his fourth title but he began to understand how to better lead a team and the Lakers’ blueprint for success was mapped out with their current roster of stars and role players. Individually, Kobe was at the peak of his powers. He was recognized by the league and awarded his first MVP of his career. The award should have been one of many but he never won again, a travesty in some NBA circles.
2008-09 saw the Lakers regain the top of the NBA mountain and capture their fourth title of the Kobe Bryant Era. They burst through the regular season winning 65 games en route to the second-best record in the league and a one-seed in the playoffs. They ran over the Jazz in round 1 and had a tough matchup with Houston where the Rockets took them to 7 games in round 2. They regained their dominance in the Western Conference Finals beating Denver in 6.
This set up a date with the Orlando Magic. The series was ultimately won by the Lakers 4-1 but was closer than the final tally led on. The Lakers won the first two games – a blowout in Game 1 and a thriller in Game 2 – but Orlando got them back by winning Game 3. Game 4 was a turning point of the series. The Magic had a chance to win in regulation but choked and the Lakers won in OT. After Game 4 the Magic were emotionally beat and the Lakers prevailed in 5 games.
2009-10 was another successful regular season for Kobe and the Lakers. The team finished first in the Western Conference again and Kobe great statistical season, averaging 27 points and scoring 40+ points 10 times during the year. They entered the playoffs as favorites to represent the West in the NBA Finals and that is exactly what they did. Kobe stepped his playoff game up averaging 29 points over 23 playoff games including the Finals against the Celtics.
The NBA Finals matchup everyone wanted to see happened when Boston and LA met again. The series was extremely tough with each team trading the first four games to end up tied at 2-2 after 4 games. The Celtics took a 3-2 series lead in Game 5 after a valiant 33 point effort from Bryant. This sent the series back to LA where the Lakers would have to win 2 straight games to regain the title, which is exactly what they did.
In the last three years, Kobe and the Lakers had regained their NBA dominance behind some great team play, key minutes from role players and stars and the stellar scoring and team leadership of Bryant. Kobe had become the leader Phil Jackson and Lakers needed. He won an MVP, made three straight NBA Finals and won two straight Finals MVPs, which he had never done when Shaq was on the team.
2010-2016: The Twilight
Kobe’s legacy was cemented over the first fifteen years of his career. The rest was six-years of gravy. He had won 5 titles, two Finals MVP’s and an MVP along the way. He went from phenom to star, to polarizing figure, to team leader with some bumps along the road. The Lakers after their fifth title under Kobe were never really the same, but that didn’t keep Kobe from relentless playing great basketball even though he would never reach the Finals again.
Looking back to the following two seasons after his fifth ring, you could see Kobe leveraging the Laker front office to capturing his sixth title and match Jordan’s total. Kobe never minced words and always saw Jordan as his peer and the gold standard to reach if he were to become the greatest.
The Lakers were swept by the eventual champion Dallas Mavs in the 2011 playoffs and beaten handily 4-1 by the young Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012 and Kobe thought the team needed a new look. In 2013, they got it in the signings of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash and jumped out of the gates the early favorites for the 2013 NBA title.
Their 2012-13 team never meshed. The Lakers saw right away that Dwight Howard was not the superstar they thought. His personality never worked with Kobe and Kobe got on Howard immediately and never let up until he was eventually pushed out of the organization in less than a year. Nash was a promising pick up but his injury issues were too much to overcome. The Lakers finished 7th in the West and were swept in the first round.
2012-13 was the last gasp effort for Kobe and the Lakers. In the next three years, Kobe’s last three before retirement, the Lakers won 27, 21, and 17 games respectively. Kobe only played 6 games in 2013-14, 35 games in ‘14-’15, and held it together for 66 total games in his final season.
There were some highlights during these years including Kobe’s final game where he looked like vintage Kobe, scoring 60 points and putting an exclamation point on his storied career. Kobe went out on top, and on his terms, just like he had done his entire playing career. He was so beloved by the Lakers fans that they retired numbers 8 and 24, both of which Kobe wore during his career.
Kobe Bryant’s Career in 3 Key Stats:
- 55.2% True Shooting Percentage – Kobe may have taken a lot of shots but he was never afraid of the tough shots which shows in his true shooting percentage final numbers.
- 25 PPG average Over His Career – Right now Kobe currently sits at 13th overall for highest scoring average in NBA history, and if you take out current players on that list (LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden) he is top 10 in former players’ highest scoring averages. Wow.
- 5 Rings – Kobe is tied for 14th with 5 total rings over his playing career, and he did it all while playing on the same team for his entire career. Aside from only a few of the greats, there aren’t many players that can say they stayed with the same team over an entire career with the amount of success as Kobe had.
The Other Side of Kobe
Bryant’s final press conference after his last NBA game was vintage Kobe as well and we saw the other, lighter, side of him. Late in Kobe’s career, he began to reflect on his legacy and how he wanted to be remembered. He realized that, while winning was important, he wanted to be known as an ambassador of the league and the game that he loved. He became a mentor to younger payers like Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, and Trae Young to name a few.
He sat up on the podium during that final press conference and answered questions from reporters from all around, in all different languages. Many only knew Kobe as a killer on the basketball court or someone who was difficult to coach and/or play with as is documented by many within the league and his own former coach Phil Jackson in a highly publicized book.
Kobe, however, was a very well-rounded person with many interests off the court, those of which he was able to more fully pursue once his playing days were past him. One such artistic venture that he actually began while he was playing brought more fortune to him than any amount of money could offer.
Kobe was working on his music career in 1999 and was on set for a music video by the Eastsidaz when a backup dancer named Vanessa Laine caught his eye. The two began dating, were engaged six months later, and married in 2001. It was love at first sight for Kobe but not for some of the closest people in his life. In fact, their marriage was not attended by Kobe’s parents which led to a two-year estrangement until the birth of Kobe’s first child.
Also See: Kobe’s Greatest Games and Highlights
Kobe After Basketball
Even though his NBA career was over Kobe never slowed down. Shortly after his last season ended, in August of 2016, Bryant opened a venture capital firm called Bryant-Stibel to fund different media and tech ventures.
He also became the first African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for his film “Dear Basketball” and the first-ever former professional athlete to be nominated and win an Academy Award. Kobe also released a book in 2018 called The Mamba Mentality: How I Play which reflects on his storied career in the NBA.
Another venture of Kobe’s was indirectly related to his fatal accident. Bryant was on the way, with his daughter Gianna and some other players and family members, to his Mamba Sports Academy to coach his daughter’s game. Kobe opened the Mamba Sports Academy in 2018 as a way to train young athletes and connect with his daughter through sports.
Kobe had started using a private helicopter during his playing days as a way to save time commuting from his home to practice and home games. On January 26th, Bryant’s helicopter clipped a mountain and fatally crashed. No one on the flight survived. The reports on the day of the accident were that it was foggy and the helicopter should not have been flying in those conditions.
The news rocked the basketball world and the hours, days, and weeks that followed the accident was tragic but also enlightening to the enormous reach Kobe had, not just in the basketball world. The obvious shock from the NBA world was a given, but athletes like Tiger Woods, Novak Jokovic, and former President Barack Obama were immediately saddened by the news.
Kobe’s ventures outside of basketball gave others in the entertainment world the chance to meet him and experience not only his drive to be the best at anything he does, but his well-rounded personality and inclusive vibe that he adopted even more after his playing days were over.
One of the most memorable images of the Celebration of Life for Kobe and Gianna held at the Staples Center, where the Lakers held their home games for most of Kobe’s career, was when Michael Jordan spoke about his relationship with Kobe. They started out as rivals with Jordan always looking over his shoulder at the young superstar that publicly stated he wanted to be better than him. But they ended friends, because of the love they had for each other.
During Michael Jordan’s speech at Kobe’s Memorial at Staples, he spoke of the relentless passion and desire that Kobe and he shared. That is one thing that none of Kobe’s critics or enemies could ever take away from him over the years. Sometimes, it was taken to the extreme and used to his detriment, but nothing could stop the Black Mamba when he was focused on accomplishing something.
Kobe Bryant will be missed around the world, on each and every continent for many many years. There are celebrities that posted on social media about him basically saying that they weren’t even basketball fans, but for some reason, his death hit them hard. Probably because everyone sees a little bit of themselves in Kobe. He grew up in front of all of us. He failed, and he succeeded. But he never quit, until the last day he was on earth.
This page was originally published on April 7, 2020.