The untimely death of Kobe Bryant, a well-known basketball player and philanthropist, sent shock waves through the community. The impact of the death was magnified by the fact that the accident that killed him also took the life of his daughter, Gianna Bryant. While he was mourned by people from all walks of life, his death seemed to hit the African American community the hardest, as he had long been considered a role model for African American men, especially in terms of fatherhood. However, while many people mourned his death, others found it disturbing that posthumous coverage of his death did not address the fact that Bryant had been the subject of credible rape allegations, leading to heated discussions about when it is appropriate to discuss the possible wrongdoings of someone who has passed. This article covers Kobe Bryant’s life, his career, his personal life, and the allegations against him.
Kobe Bryant was a professional basketball player. Kobe joined the NBA straight out of high school, following in the footsteps of his father and his uncle who were both NBA players. He played with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning five NBA championships and becoming the third-highest all-time scorer in the NBA. He retired in December 2016. Although he faced some controversy when he was a younger man facing rape allegations, Kobe was known to many as a philanthropist. He was also known as an active and involved father, and he was with his daughter, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant and seven other people on January 26, 2020 when their private helicopter crashed, killing all of them.
Kobe Bean Bryant was born on August 23, 1978 to former NBA player Joe Bryant and Pamela Bryant. He also had an uncle, John “Chubby” Cox, who was an NBA player. It should come as no surprise that Kobe began playing basketball at the age of three. He was a Lakers fan as a young child. When Kobe was six, his father’s career in the NBA ended and the family moved to Rieti, Italy. It was in Italy that Kobe began playing basketball. Even though he was in Italy, he continued to get inspiration from NBA players because his grandfather would mail him videos of NBA games. He would come home to play basketball in the summer, and when his family moved back to the United States he began playing college ball. He began playing for the Lower Merion High School, where he distinguished himself as a player and became Pennsylvania’s Player of the Year.
Kobe had the opportunity to play ball for a number of different colleges. However, in 1995 Kevin Garnett went straight from high school to the NBA, and Kobe began to think about going pro instead of going to college. Kobe was only the sixth player in NBA history to transition directly from high school to the NBA. He began his career as a draft pick for the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets traded him to the Los Angeles and he played with the Lakers for 20 seasons.
During his professional career, Kobe became well-known as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, even surpassing Michael Jordan in number of all-time points earned. He gave himself the nickname Black Mamba, which became popular with his fans. A non-exhaustive list of his professional accomplishments includes: five NBA championships, winner of the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, 18-time All-Star, 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player, 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team, two-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, lead NBA scorer for two seasons, fourth all-time regular season scorer, and fourth all-time postseason score (Wikipedia, 2020). Kobe Bryant stats can be found in other locations; this is just an overview of some of his most notable accomplishments.
The Lakers have long been considered one of the NBA’s most resilient teams and Kobe helped lead the team to several victories. In 2005-2006 and in 2006-2007, Kobe led the NBA in scoring, leading to a career-high 81 points in a single game. The only person who scored more points in a game was Wilt Chamberlain. The Lakers were NBA champs in both 2009 and 2010, when Kobe was considered the leader of the league.
While the NBA may be the pinnacle of professional basketball in the United States, the Olympics are still considered the standard for most athletes. Kobe was a two-time Olympic gold-medal winning athlete. He was a member of the U.S. National Team, and they won gold in 2008 and 2012.
Unlike many players, Kobe seemed determined to go out while still at the top of his game. He suffered an injury to his Achilles tendon in 2013. Though he recovered from that injury, it was the beginning of a physical decline and…
…kids in New York and Los Angeles. He was a frequent donor to the Reading is Fundamental program and LeBron James’s Promise School. Kobe was also a very active participant in the Make-A-Wish Foundation, meeting with over 100 critically ill children. In 2008, Kobe started the Kobe Bryant China Fund, which was focused on helping create sports and cultural programs in China. Though these are the highlights of Kobe’s work as a philanthropist, there are many other things that he did, from small contributions to schools or teams to lending his name and presence for charitable fund-raising.
Kobe, his daughter Gianna, and seven other friends were riding in Kobe’s chartered private helicopter in Calabasas, California on January 26, 2020. Kobe had spoken about traveling by helicopter because of the well-known California traffic and his desire to spend more time with family and less time stuck in traffic. However, he seems to have been aware that it was potentially risky; he and wife Vanessa are rumored to have agreed to never ride in the helicopter at the same time.
The day started out ordinary, with Kobe attending church at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church, where he was preparing for his confirmation. From there, he and Gigi went to meet two of her teammates, their parents, an assistant basketball coach, and the pilot for a flight to Thousand Oaks.
Though the flight to Thousand Oaks was a short one that Kobe had traveled many times in the past, it was not a good day for flying. Visibility was low enough that the Los Angeles’ Police Department had actually grounded its helicopters (Sanchez, 2020). However, the Sikorsky S-76B was reported to be a safe helicopter, though, after the crash, it would be revealed that it lacked a terrain awareness and warning system, a cockpit voice recorder, and a flight data recorder. The flight took off at 9:06 am. The pilot, Ara Zobayan, was an experienced pilot and requested SVFR clearance, which would keep him in close contact with air traffic control because of the inclement weather conditions. He informed air traffic control that they were climbing to get above the cloud layer. They climbed 2,300 feet, then began to plummet. There was no communication between the helicopter and air traffic control after the pilot informed them of his climb. At 9:45 am the helicopter fell off the radar, and at 9:47…
Badenhausen, Kurt. “Kobe Bryant’s $600 Million Fortune: How He Won On- And Off-The Court.” Forbes. 28 January 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/kurtbadenhausen/2020/01/28/kobes-600-million-fortune-how-he-scored-onand-offthe-court/#75edd8766d36. Accessed 15 March 2020.
Biography.com Editors. “Kobe Bryant Biography.” A&E Television Networks. 25 February 2020. https://www.biography.com/athlete/kobe-bryant . Accessed 15 March 2020.
CBS News. “Kobe Loses McDonald’s Deal.” CBS News. 23 January 2004. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/kobe-loses-mcdonalds-deal/. Accessed 15 March 2020.
Sanchez, Ray. “Kobe Bryant Was a Living Legend. In His Final Hours, He Was an Ordinary Dad and Friend.” CNN. 3 February 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/02/us/kobe-bryant-final-hours/index.html. Accessed 15 March 2020.
Wikipedia. “Kobe Bryant.” Wikipedia. 8 March 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant. Accessed 15 March 2020.
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