The world mourned on 26th January 2020 when Kobe Bryant, a larger than life athlete, tragically lost his life in a helicopter crash alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and 7 other victims. A proud father of 4 daughters, an Oscar winner and multiple NBA championship rings puts him on a pedestal only a few people reach in life.
However, what set him aside from his competitors wasn’t just his natural talent at shooting hoops – it was his mamba mentality. A mentality named after an extremely venomous snake which is one of the fastest and most aggressive on the planet. A trait to always live to the best of your ability. Reach far and beyond your own expectations. You don’t quit. You don’t surrender. You don’t feel sorry for yourself and be a victim of a negative mindset. You take control. You fight against the odds. You leave every tear, sweat, emotion and pain on the floor you stand on.
Kobe was playing at the end of his career when I started watching basketball so I didn’t witness his prime with Shaq at the beginning of the millennium. Nevertheless, even his sudden death was a shock to me. Such sporting icons seem so far away from reality because their wealth, connections and way of life are alien to us that you forget their human too. Kobe’s unfortunate death is another reminder to cherish every moment and never take life for granted.
Most people will honour Kobe’s legacy by playing hard on the court but why can’t the rest of us instil his mamba mentality and strive for greatest regardless of the opposition in front of us? Your determination, willingness to win and hard work ethics aren’t down to talent – it's your instinct. You must be fearless. You should challenge adversary and break through barriers. Otherwise, you will ponder in later life wondering what if?
I know more about Kobe now than when I first started watching basketball. Even so, his story has only inspired me to do more to get the most out of life - whatever my dreams.
I will become my own mamba and take more risks. If I get knocked down then I’ll stand up twice as a tall, tougher and stronger than ever before. I will keep fighting until I win against all odds.
Rest in peace, King.