By Johanna Rosalye Luna
— It’s a beautiful Sunday morning. A day many of us spend with our families and loved ones. Many enjoying a “lazy Sunday” and getting ready for the week ahead. Unbeknownst to us that a tragedy would hit the world of sports and Hollywood turning it into a somber Sunday.
In the early morning of Sunday, January 26 news broke that former Los Angeles Lakers player and basketball legend Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter accident, to include his 13 year-old daughter Gianna, along with 7 others on board. There were no survivors.
Kobe Bryant’s passing comes the night after current Lakers Forward Lebron James surpassed [him] for third in the all-time scoring list in the NBA. It was a night celebrating not only Lebron James for his accomplishment, but also Kobe Bryant for his greatness. The turn of events all seems too ironic.
I remember growing up watching Kobe, a class act, how he evolved as a player and as a person. Watching him play among and against other basketball greats, such as Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal, during his era was transcendent. Kobe was more than a basketball legend. He was an inspiration, idol, mentor, father, son, friend, husband and so much more. He truly loved the game of basketball, it was his life even after retirement. He remained involved in the game, not only within the NBA but in the community as well. There are no words to explain the person he was on and off the court.
It is hard to believe that Kobe has perished. Hard for the news to sink in. A life taken to soon, with so much life still ahead. He was just starting his life after basketball, a second life, a second career. Unfortunately, we will not get to see the great things that he would have accomplished. Oh the possibilities that could have been. A legacy just blooming, cut too short.
Now will come the tributes and memorials in honor of his greatness. The question is how will the NBA and the Los Angeles Lakers pay tribute to Kobe Bryant? The team retired both his numbers No. 8 and No. 24 in 2017. Kobe became eligible for the 2020 NBA Hall of Fame Ballot. Those among the eligible candidates include Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Chris Bosh, and Shawn Marion. If inducted, Kobe would become the fifth player to be inducted posthumously into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Late Sunday evening Mark Cuban announced that the Dallas Mavericks will be retiring No. 24 in honor of Kobe Bryant. Utah Jazz players, Donovan Mitchell and Royce O’Neale, are calling for the NBA to retire Kobe’s number throughout the league.
Kobe, a shooting guard, spent his entire 20-year career with the Lakers. He entered the league as the youngest player in 1996 at the age of 18 directly from High School. His accomplishments include five NBA championships, was a 18-time NBA All-Star, 4-time All-Star Game MVP, two Team USA Olympic Gold medals, one FIBA Americas Championship. Kobe tied with Bob Pettit for most All-Star MVP awards (4) in NBA history. He is survived by his wife Vanessa, and three daughters; Natalia, Bianca and Ciara, along with his parents Joe and Pamela Bryant. Kobe was 41 years of age.