A man of legend; a legacy left behind. In the basketball world, there are few greater and few with the recognition and statistical records of a man of the name of Kobe Bryant, who passed away last Sunday, alongside his daughter and many of his entourage. It is shocking, yet a sign of how admired the 41 year old was, that he is to be mourned for a full week in Italy, where the ex-NBA player grew up. On Monday, the Italian basketball federation announced that all professional teams, at every level of basketball, will pay homage to the former Los Angeles Lakers player for a whole week. Glancing upon his Twitter feed, his final few tweets were messages of encouragement for current and former basketball players on their achievements, and of acclaim towards the career of former LA Sparks player Alana Beard, who passed away last week. This was a man who was cherished, and cherished both afar and in his presence.
Investigators are still attempting to work out the cause of the helicopter crash which killed the retired basketball star. Often known to fans simply as ‘Kobe’, or by his chosen alter-ego of “Black Mamba”, the ex-player was considered to be one of the greatest players in basketball history, having won five NBA championships during a storied career. Gianna Bryant, the NBA star’s daughter, was a celebrated prospect, having followed her father’s footsteps into the game, and was just thirteen when she died in the crash on the morning of the 26th January. It was suggested by sources nearby to the scene, and to CNN, that in the early hours of Saturday morning flight visibility had been severely restricted and was so low that Los Angeles police had made the decision to ground all of their helicopters, according to a local spokesperson.
The official cause of the crash has not been determined, however, it was suggested that the pilot had been informed that the helicopter’s altitude was below the recommended guidelines, and contact was lost shortly afterwards. Sources suggest that the flight had been given permission to operate under “special visual flight rules” (SVFR), allowing the pilot to fly in conditions which are less suitable than standard guidelines. Local witnesses within the California region where the crash took place suggested that the S-76B model plummeted quickly before making contact with rough terrain, in a hilly region. It is suggested that Gianna, Kobe’s daughter, were on board the flight, as well as up to eight other individuals, believed to be coaches or professionals close to the Bryant’s, as well as relatives. It marks an unfortunate annual period in which a number of celebrated sporting figures have lost their lives to aviation accidents, with the Argentine football striker Emiliano Sala having died in similar unfortunate circumstances just over a year ago, as well as the former Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha roughly sixteen months ago.
With an array of achievements including being named Olympic champion twice, MVP (Most Valuable Player) in 2008, as well as MVP in two NBA finals, the former NBA star will be cherished and immortalised forever. Not just was Kobe a celebrated basketball player, he was also an entrepreneur, investor and a coach to athletes and business men across the world. Not just in basketball was he recognised as a superstar, but he was also revered in a number of international sports. This week, the rugby and football world laid testament to the superstar through memorials, as well as social media content, whilst a number of actors, athletes and politicians alike showed their support for the athlete both online and via various other forms of commemoration of Kobe’s life and achievements. Within his business ventures, he laid a foot into the world of investment before calling time on his career, co-founding a venture capital organisation as well as instigating various brands and sponsorships for energy drink companies. Releasing a short film in 2018, he drew acclaim and won an academy award, whilst his partnerships with Nike were well-publicised. Kobe continued to build his ‘Black Mamba’ brand both during and following his career, most notably whilst seeking to bring basketball to those who sought to follow in his footsteps, no matter their ability, background, or show of support. Kobe Bryant will not just be immortalised in the business or basketball world, but among the hearts of those who lay witness to his achievements, and those who are yet to come.