Kobe Bryant, NBA superstar and Academy Award winner, was tragically killed in a helicopter crash this morning, with his daughter Gianna and seven other passengers.
Sometimes the greats are only here momentarily, like a burning star in space or the short 24 seconds that a basketball player has to make magic. This morning not only the NBA and the sports community, but also the entire world, lost one of its greatest entertainers. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the dynamic career and life of one of the most competitive, uncompromising winners of his generation.
The Stratospheric Rise of Kobe Bryant
Kobe Bryant was born in Philadelphia in 1978 to Pamela Cox and Joe ” Jellybean” Bryant, who was also a professional basketball player. The elder Bryant played for several NBA teams, including the Philadelphia 76ers, before he had Kobe. After his NBA career, Joe moved his family overseas as he continued playing in Italy, making Kobe bilingual and internationally savvy. They moved back to the Philadelphia in the early 90s, and Kobe played for Lower Merion High School once his father had retired.
The talented basketball player declared for the NBA draft directly after graduating high school and was drafted with the 13th pick by the Charlotte Hornets. The high-flyer had worked out for the Los Angeles Lakers and refused to play for any other team, a bold move for the 13th pick. He was traded to the Lakers and by his third year was recognized as one of the best guards in the league.
He went on to win 3 NBA championships with Shaquille O’Neal at the turn of the century and later in his career he would win two more as the centerpiece of the team. The All-Star player accentuated his winning resume with dynamic personal showcases, including a night that he scored 81 points in a single game. Ultimately, Bryant battled back from crippling injuries and closed out his career in cinematic fashion, by scoring 60 points in his final NBA game.
Reporting on this tragedy is far from complete. However, the early word is that Bryant’s helicopter experienced a mechanical issue and circled away from populated areas to its eventual crash site in Calabasas, California. It has recently been confirmed that one of his four daughters, Gianna, was onboard along with seven other now-identified passengers heading to the game. This is doubly tragic for the basketball world, as Gianna had been making a name for herself at just 13 years old as a burgeoning basketball player in her own right, with realistic WNBA dreams.