Kobe Bryant, daughter, among nine dead in tragedy

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Eli Thomas, Co-Entertainment Editor

Kobe Bryant. The name that echoed through arenas all across the country for decades. The name one calls out before draining a three on the court, or simply tossing a crumpled-up paper into a trash can from a distance. The name is, and always will be, a cornerstone of basketball, and what it means to be a true competitor.
On Sunday, Jan. 26, nine people lost their lives in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, which is located just northwest of Los Angeles. Amongst the victims were Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant, along with Payton Chester, Sarah Chester,Christina Mauser, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli and pilot Ara Zobayan.
They were on their way to a basketball game for Gianna’s travel team, which her father coached. The news came as a shock to the basketball world, the sports world and the world as a whole, as Mr. Bryant truly transcended the boundaries of his sport with his perseverance and sportsmanship.
Nobody represented hard work more than him. He put 100% effort into everything he did. This was evident with his 2017 animated short film “Dear Basketball.” This film, which was inspired by Bryant’s retirement, got him the Academy Award for best animated short film. It tells the story of a young Kobe Bryant falling in love with the game of basketball and having to say goodbye to it as an adult.
His infinite thirst to always be better was known as “Mamba Mentality,” referring to his nickname, “Black Mamba.” His peers chose this nickname because of the actual snake’s abilities. The black mamba can strike with 99% accuracy at maximum speed, in rapid succession.
Bryant spent 20 seasons in the NBA, from 1996-2016, all with the Los Angeles Lakers. He led them to NBA Championships in 2000,2001, 2009 and 2010. And since his death, the NBA named its All-Star Game’s MVP (Most Valuable Player) award after him. But it seems like Bryant was not a guy who would want to be called “bigger” than basketball. As the world could see with his determination to come back to the sport even after major injury, he was all about the game of basketball and he had a love for it like few others.
On the day of his death many were discussing whether to postpone the eight NBA games scheduled for that day. But the Nuggets, Spurs, Hawks, Grizzlies, Pelicans, Knicks, Magic and Trail Blazers all hosted home games as scheduled. Many, such as Carmelo Anthony, said that this is what Bryant would have wanted: for people to play basketball, and for others to watch it and appreciate the sport for what it is. Each of these games started off with one team taking a 24 shot-clock violation followed by the opposing team taking an eight second violation. Teams that did not play that day followed suit the following day. The two numbers represent the two numbers Kobe wore during his career, 8 and 24.
Watching the games , it looked very difficult for the players to go out and play that day. Bryant was the inspiration behind this generation of basketball. In fact, he is the inspiration behind much of this generation and touched the lives of many, basketball players or not — from Lebron James to Barack Obama.
So next time you are doing something that may be difficult or challenging, take a moment to try to get into the Mamba Mentality. Whether you are taking a test, working a job, practicing a sport, playing an instrument, or shooting a paper into the trash, think, “What would Mamba do?” and do it to the best of your ability.
RIP to Kobe, Gianna and all of the other victims.
Mamba forever.