MC Students Reflect on the Life of Kobe Bryant

by Pete Janny, Sports Editor & Managing Editor 

The death of former basketball player and global icon Kobe Bryant is hard to come to grips with. TMZ broke the news last week that Bryant and eight other people, including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, died in a helicopter crash at a mountain in Calabasas, California, which is located about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. No one on board stood a chance of surviving the crash as it is said that the impact resulted in debris being spread out the length of a football field. Just like that an icon and hero was taken away from this earth at 41 years old. 2,500 miles away from New York City, in Los Angeles, California, is where the sadness has hit the hardest. Born in Philadelphia before spending a portion of his childhood living in Italy, Bryant was drafted 13th overall in the 1996 NBA Draft and went on to spend the entirety of his 20-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant was adored by Lakers fans from the moment he arrived and his popularity continued to grow with each passing season. When the final buzzer sounded on April 13th, 2016 at the Staples Center, Bryant’s career officially came to an end on a night where he scored 60 points to lead the Lakers to a 101-96 win over the Utah Jazz. It was only fitting that Bryant ended a legendary career with a legendary performance as celebrities showed out in full force that night to witness his greatness one last time. Bryant’s resume was proof of just how special he was. He retired with five NBA championships won, 19 all-star appearances, and as the Lakers’ all-time leading scorer; just to name a few of his accomplishments.

Lakers fans spent the days after Bryant’s death gathered outside the Staples Center, bearing flowers and decked out in his jersey in memory of their hero. Celebrities who had a personal relationship with Bryant such as Jimmy Fallon, Ellen Degenneres, Shaquille O’Neal, and Ice Cube, just to name a few, all delivered emotional tributes on television in honor of their beloved friend. Breathtaking Murals surfaced in places as far away as the Philippines. Soccer games in Europe were overtaken by signs and chants for a man who often expressed his love for their sport. Even the Australian Open became more about Bryant than it did tennis at times. Perhaps the most poignant act of remembrance came when LeBron James took the mic at midcourt prior to the Lakers’ first game since Bryant’s death on Friday, January 31st. James, clearly overcome with emotion, reminded fans that the night was just as much a “celebration” of Bryant’s life as it was a memorial. The overwhelming global response this tragedy has elicited is a reminder of why it is just as much an international nightmare as it is a national one. Kobe Bryant may be gone, but his legacy will live on for generations to come.

Mike Micek ‘23:

Where were you when you heard about the news and what was your initial reaction?

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I was watching a basketball game here at Manhattan. My friend Louis told me and I was so surprised. I didn’t want to believe him but he told me it was true.

What will you remember most about Kobe Bryant?

He was very inspiring. I liked how he taught younger people how to do things the right way. I liked his tenacity and I feel like that’s one thing the NBA doesn’t have today. In the era of Kobe and Shaq, there was more contact. However, nowadays they’ve pushed away contact.

Favorite Kobe moment?

His last game [in 2016] when he dropped 60.

Kamren Corrica ‘22:

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Where were you when you heard about the news and what was your initial reaction?

I was at home getting my hair done with my mom when it popped up on the news and said to myself ‘no way, that’s fake.’

What will you remember most about Kobe?

How hard he worked. I can’t even fathom how hard he worked. His drive for excellence was insane.

Is this the most shocking celebrity death in your lifetime in your opinion?

Yes, because it was out of nowhere and he was only 41 years old.

Favorite Kobe moment?

When he tore his Achilles [in 2013] and stayed in the game to hit two free throws.