By Brady Greco and Josh Weaver, co-sports editors
The conversation about the greatest of all time in the NBA will always include Kobe Bryant, but at a time like this, it doesn’t matter. The morning of January 26 was one that no one will ever forget.
Kobe Bryant, nicknamed the Black Mamba, along with his daughter, Gianna and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Among these seven were college baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and child Alyssa; assistant coach at the Mamba Academy Christina Mauser, pilot Ara Zobayan, mother and daughter Sarah and Payton Chester. After the crash, an utter state of shock hit everyone around the NBA and others who knew Kobe and his daughter.
Kobe Bean Bryant was born August 23, 1978 in Philadelphia. Bryant was drafted thirteenth overall to the Charlotte Hornets, but later that night he was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Bryant went on to win five NBA championships, compete in 18 All-Star games, and become a two-time NBA finals MVP.
Following the first reports, many former players and celebrities alike described their “Kobe moment.” Others offered condolences to the families affected. “Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players. But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete,” said NBA all-time leader scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Many Saegertown basketball players were impacted by Bryant’s death. “He was one of the greatest scorers of all time, and it’s sad to see such a legend gone so soon,” junior Max Fuller said. Sophomore Jaden Wilkins added, “He was an inspiration to kids all around the world. On and off the court he was a great man. He’s gone too soon.”
Mollie Przybrowski, point guard for the Lady Panthers said, “I might not wear 24 on the court, but I idolize the man who wore it.” She noted that he was the first player she ever knew. “I tried to follow his game and looked up to him a lot. Seeing his daughter play, it was heartbreaking,” she said. “I was hoping that someday I might get to meet them both.”
Bryant’s storied career had controversies to it as well. In 2003, he was accused of sexual assault by a 19-year-old employee at a resort in Colorado. The case was dropped criminally, but not civilly. Bryant settled the case out of court.
Not only was he a basketball player, but he was also a proud father and husband. He was a father to four girls, Gianna, Natalia, Bianca, and Capri. He was the husband of Vanessa Laire Bryant. His daughter Gianna was destined to follow in his footsteps as an athlete. The whole world remains in shock and sadness; and many questions about the accident remain. According to USA Today, the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter was not equipped with a black box that would reveal important information from inside the helicopter before the crash, and complete results from the investigation into the crash will not be available for eight to 12 months.
Panthers basketball coach Chris Greco summed up the impact of Bryant on the game: “Kobe is one of the most influential basketball players of my generation. Not only for a Lakers fan, but as a basketball fan in general. This wasn’t just for on the court, but what he did off the court as well. He will truly be missed.”
Journalism Adviser, Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School