The tragic events of that day will never be forgotten.
Perhaps the saddest part is how young many of the passengers were, especially Gianna and fellow players Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, none even old enough to drive.
Kobe himself was only 41 and had just started his next journey.
Bryant accomplished many things in his NBA career -- 18 All-Star Games, five NBA titles, and an MVP award -- but what he looked forward to most was his life after basketball.
This is what he had devoted himself to.
Bryant wanted to help the next generation of basketball players, both male and female. He created Mamba Sports Academy in 2018, helping to train children to be the next great athletes. Gianna’s AAU basketball team, the Mambas, worked out at the facility as well as NBA players, including Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, and Tobias Harris.
Bryant was a strong advocate for women’s basketball, often seen with Gianna or other members of his family at WNBA games. He once told Jimmy Kimmel that when he was asked about not having a son to carry on his legacy, he told the person he didn’t need a son because he had Gianna. As he told the story to Kimmel, "[Gianna will] be standing next to me, and it'll be like, 'And you gotta have a boy. You and V gotta have a boy, have somebody carry on the tradition, the legacy.' She's [Gianna] like, 'I got this. No boy for that, I got this.'"
Gianna Bryant had dreams of going on to play at the University of Connecticut, the premier women’s program, and then to the WNBA. The league, struggling with attendance and revenue, greatly benefited from Bryant’s support and would have loved to have Gianna in it one day down the road.
Unfortunately, that will never happen.
When he wasn’t training athletes or spending time with his family, Bryant wanted to show the world he was much more than an athlete. His first book, The Mamba Mentality, was published in 2018 and taught young people how to play basketball the right way, and go after everything in life like it’s the last thing you do. At the time of his death he was working on a children’s book with author Paulo Coelho. The book was meant to inspire underprivileged kids according to Coehlo, but after the news of Bryant’s death Coelho scrapped the book because, “this book has lost its reason.”.
After a career accomplishing many things and breaking records, Bryant crossed another barrier becoming the first former pro athlete to be nominated for and win an Oscar. Bryant wrote a short film called Dear Basketball, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2018. The film was based on a poem written by Bryant during his final season in the NBA. Dear Basketball has been used in many tributes over the last week when mourning his death.
Bryant was also heavily involved in philanthropy during and after his illustrious career. The Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation focuses on helping struggling youth and the homeless. Homelessness has been a priority for Bryant, and he made it a priority of his charity work. He donated $1 million in 2010 to the Call of Duty Endowment, which helps veterans transition from their military career back into civilian life. Additionally, he has worked with charities in China that focus on education and safety.
Bryant was a tremendous basketball player and spent almost half of his life in the NBA, but that is not what he wanted to be remembered for. He wanted to show the world the good that athletes can do outside of their sports, and he showed it well. His devotion to supporting the WNBA, training young athletes, writing, and philanthropy, prove that he was able to do more.
Kobe Bryant was an idol and mentor to many NBA players and will continue be an inspiration to many.