How does someone affect the lives of millions, without personally meeting them even once? January 26th meant something very different to me than what I remember the day now for. It took me an entire day to process that Kobe Bryant had passed.

I was a little kid, back in 2006, I was just changing channels on TV, when I saw an NBA game being telecast. The Lakers were playing the Raptors at home and I saw this player go off for 81 points. Lakers scored 122 in that match, and 22 were scored by that player who everyone was calling “The Mamba”.

After I dug deep into who the Mamba was, I picked up my first ever basketball, and since then, I’ve been in love with the sport. Kobe Bryant was the reason I started playing basketball.

The Mamba Mentality

As I started to dribble by myself, I understood that it would take me a while to get the hang of it. Then, I saw an interview where Kobe spoke of the Mamba Mentality.

It is essentially a mindset where you do not give up, do not let pain hold you back and you keep learning and getting better at what you do till you’re great or the greatest at it.

Every evening, for 6 months, all I did was dribble the ball in the parking lot trying to get it right. Eventually, when I did, I realized dribbling is just scratching the surface. I had to become the student of the game, and again, Kobe’s mentality helped me.

Slowly, I went on to join different teams and played a lot. Now I play for college, and it is more than devastating for me to even think that Kobe Bryant is gone.

Also Read: Watch: Common Sports Mistakes That Lead To Prolonged Injuries

Not Just A Basketball Player

Bryant was a basketball player for one, but he was so many other things. To begin with, he is the role model for millions and the reason millions of kids ever picked up a basketball. I choose not to write “was” here, because he will always remain our role model.

He cared for people he loved and here’s an incident describing it:

Shaquille O’Neal, another NBA great, was in tears as he spoke to the NBA TNT team and said, “I wish I could say something to him again.” There was a time when Shaq and Kobe were named co-MVPs and Kobe decided to give the trophy to Shaq’s two sons and said he’d get his own later.

Matt Barnes, someone Kobe had a good on-court rivalry with, remembers when Kobe gave his twins a private basketball practice session on their birthday. There are hundreds of such stories which show Kobe was a great human being more than anything else.

As Kobe went around the world with his team, he touched the lives of so many people, that the world is mourning his passing. His Mamba mentality is something that is applicable not just to basketball, but to real life as well. Whatever I have achieved today is because I applied the Mamba mentality to everything I did, and I’m sure I will have millions of others saying the same thing if asked.

Today, I play for my college team, with the number 24 on my back and every single time I wear it, I feel responsible to carry on what he started – love for the game, the Mamba mentality and love for other human beings.

There are about 3 million people wanting a change in the NBA logo to put Kobe on it, with all due respect to the great Jerry West, but even Jerry wants that change. There are thousands of fans outside Staples Centre, LA, throwing paper balls into a bucket shouting “Kobe!” as they throw and I’m sitting here in my room doing the same. 

The world is mourning the legend’s passing – from football players, to every player in the NBA, to celebrities and so many others. This is proof he was a great man and a legendary basketball player.

It is not easy at all to wake up every morning knowing we won’t physically get to see him anymore, but Kobe will live on in our hearts and he will live on in every single child that has started playing basketball because of him, including me.

My prayers go out to Kobe’s family and the families of all the victims of the crash.

Image Sources: Author, Google Images

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