I remember the date: April 13, 2016. It was a rainy Wednesday night and the NBA Season had its last games before the playoffs. I was at a Performing Arts Banquet. As a band kid, I did not really enjoy the banquets because they were focused on the musical theater aspect of performing rather than music (not that I have anything against them or musical theater, as I am a big fan musicals). The time was around 8pm when my band friends decided to leave, so I decided to leave as well. I went over my friend's house who lived right down the block. We were debating which NBA game to put on. It was between the Golden State Warriors going for their record 73rd win, or the game on ESPN2.
Little did we know that game on ESPN2 means so much more.
We decided to keep flipping the channels, until the Lakers vs Jazz game reached the end of the 3rd quarter.
20 year old NBA Legend Kobe Bryant just eclipsed his 37th point and had a chance to get to 40 or even 50 points in his farewell game.
Little did we also know that he would get to 60.
The most memorable part of the whole game was actually after the final buzzer. Kobe embraced his family and addressed the sold out crowd in Staples Center, ending his time as a player with "Mamba out."
This is the perfect and only ending for such a historic player setting the record for most points scored in their last career game.
Fast forward to January 25, 2020. The game is Lakers vs 76ers in Philadelphia, Kobe's hometown. LeBron just passed Kobe on the All-Time Scoring list for 3rd, which Mr. Bryant has held for 6 years.
What does the most competitive player in NBA history say to this generation's GOAT and to the player he is compared to the most?
He tweets out to congratulate him and tells him to keep on pushing for greatness.
His final tweet could not have been any different.
Kobe was not just a fierce competitor, NBA legend, and world-wide phenomenon. He was a family man who cared so lovingly for his wife and daughters.
Gigi was mentioned in a talk show interview in 2018, where Kobe said she wanted to carry his legacy for him in the WNBA.
Gigi was the one who sat with Kobe just a few weeks ago at a Hawks game, where Kobe was able to get her to meet her favorite player Trae Young.
Gigi was known to be a compassionate teammate who worked tirelessly to succeed her father in basketball greatness on and off the court.
Those last 445 words I typed all perished in the helicopter accident Sunday January 26th. Or did they?
We basketball fans, Kobe fans, and just people who have been touched by Kobe in their lifetimes can carry on their legacy everyday.
It all starts with working hard, determination, never giving up, and success. There will be failure along the way. There will be road bumps, sadness, and losses. Through all of it, Bryant taught us to grow, to always improve, and to have that "Mamba Mentality" in any task no matter how small or big.
Dear Kobe and Gigi,
We will always miss you. We promise to deliver and carry your legacy for all future generations and to continue the Mamba Mentality. We hope there's basketballs in heaven.
Rest In Peace.