A year later, it still doesn’t feel real. Kobe Bryant. Gianna Bryant. Payton Chester. Sarah Chester. Alyssa Altobelli. Keri Altobelli. John Altobelli. Christina Mauser. Ara Zobayan. All nine died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas one year ago today. They’ll be remembered forever.
Remembering Kobe Bryant; A Year of Reflection
Last Word Staff Remember Kobe Bryant
To commemorate the one-year anniversary of the tragedy, a few members of our staff at Last Word on Basketball have all opted to say a word or two about the late Kobe Bryant.
Chase Gage, Senior Editor:
Growing up, there were few players I despised more than Kobe Bryant. That should come as no surprise, considering I’m a Boston Celtics fan. I didn’t take losing to him in the 2010 NBA Finals lightly. In fact, I still remember where I was when the final buzzer sounded. Bryant ran across the court, ball tucked under his arm, celebrating our defeat.
But I also remember the sinking feeling in my gut when I got the news. I was at the dog park with some friends when the notification came across my screen. It didn’t feel real. It still doesn’t. Sure, he was a bitter rival on the court. But legends like Bryant transcend the game itself. Despite all the years of rooting against him, I wanted to cry at that moment. Bryant epitomized hard work and dedication. He was living proof that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. He was a role model to an entire generation of athletes. Bryant was a hero to so many. And he’s gone too soon.
Even a year later, it doesn’t seem possible that one of the biggest stars the sport has ever known isn’t here to see the league he helped build. He didn’t get to witness his Los Angeles Lakers bring home their 17th title. He won’t get to see the stars he inspired rise to the top. But he will never be forgotten, and his influence will be felt for generations to come across the realm of sports. There will never be another Kobe Bean Bryant.
Zach Kircher, Department Manager:
“The most important thing is to try and inspire people so they can be great at whatever they want to do.”
Kobe’s greatest legacy is that he made everyone want to be great. He elevated everyone by demonstrating a ridiculous work ethic and gave people the tours to be great in their own life. Of course, he changes the game of basketball for both men and women forever. More importantly, he showed people how to be great outside basketball. Whether it was a great dad, artist, creator, or whatever it may be, Kobe was great at it. I’ll be thankful for him and the Mamba Mentality forever!
Taylor McKillop, Associate Editor
I honestly can’t believe it’s been a year since we lost Kobe, Gianna, and the seven others on that helicopter to heaven. It still doesn’t feel real. While reflecting on this tragedy, I figure there’s no better time to tell my Kobe story. Currently, I work as an associate editor for Last Word on Hoops. Basketball, particularly NBA, is one of my two favorite sports to watch, talk, debate, and write about. But, I grew up a baseball guy. It was my life, the sport I played, the sport I loved. I consider myself a total “sports-nut” these days, I’ll watch anything in the world of sports. Kobe helped this transformation.
I never knew much about the NBA. My dad hails from the Bay Area, so he was a loose fan of the Golden State Warriors. But, they weren’t any good back then. So it was mostly baseball and the Yankees for us. But, then I started watching ESPN highlights of Kobe and the Lakers. He was taking hold of the league, scoring at will while showing off that classic win-or-go-home Mamba mentality.
The things he did on a basketball court were like poetry. I was so entranced by his ability to take over games and lead his team to championships while doing so. The most competitive player I’ve ever seen on the court, almost a silent assassin. Kobe Bryant was my first true basketball love. He helped introduce the game to me, a game that I fell in love with, a game that I want to be part of my writing career. Thank you, Kobe. Rest in heaven.
Carl Knauf, Associate Editor
Certain moments in life, beyond the personal milestones and experiences, are engrained in your memory. I remember the exact moment I found out Kobe Bryant had tragically passed, but it was well after the news broke.
I had decided to go skiing that day. Being in the mountains with the chill rising from fresh snow and an unmatchable view of the world is special. It’s a way to disconnect, escape from standard technology and the daily grievances and misfortunes down below. I remember at one point while I was carving down the slopes, an eerie sensation ran through my body; it was something heavy, something was wrong, but it wasn’t something personal. I kept skiing until the last lift took me to the tram.
I took the tram down the mountain to the city and stopped in the restaurant bar at the base. There it was on every television screen: Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash along with his Gianna and their friends. The place was near-empty for the dinner-crowd had yet to come in, but it was silent and probably would be throughout the rush. I couldn’t believe it, and it’s still hard to. Though I’m not a Lakers fan or never followed Kobe as an idol, I knew the world lost a legend. Not just in basketball, but in life. He was internationally-known, an icon, and people who don’t follow sports still knew who he was. That earlier heavy sensation I felt 10,000 feet above was the weight of the world dropping. Rest in peace, Kobe, you’ll always be missed.
Matt Wadleigh, Contributor
Kobe. The Mamba. Time and time again, even when the score was too much to come back from, he gave me hope. His ability to lead his team and his never give up demeanor is something I still hold to till this day. My all time favorite quote is what I live my life by.
” If you’re afraid to fail, you’re probably going to fail.”
Mamba, we miss you and thank you for so many great memories in LakerLand.
Embed from Getty Images