Indiana Daily Student

Black Voices: One year without Kobe Bryant, the Black Mamba

At 2:49 p.m. Jan. 26, 2020, I received a text from one of my best friends while I was at work. Three devastating words.

“Kobe just died?!”

I actually froze. I remember frantically googling, hoping it wasn’t true. But no, TMZ was the first to report Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. When it was later reported his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, or “GiGi,” and seven other people died in the crash with them, I felt like I’d been punched in the gut.

When the news hit the media, the IU men’s basketball team was in the middle of a game against Maryland, playing the game Kobe had helped shape. The Indiana Daily Student’s Grace Ybarra wrote about the experience of being in Assembly Hall and learning of Kobe’s death mid-game.

[Related: OPINION: Kobe Bryant's death blurred the end of the IU men's basketball game]

Some of the players later reacted to the news and shared tweets expressing their condolences.

Now-sophomore guard Trayce Jackson-Davis tweeted about Bryant giving him confidence.

Then-senior guard Devonté Green wrote about the gravity of Bryant’s tragic death.

Another Indiana basketball player, Wabash College freshman Edreece Redmond II, said he kept telling himself it wasn’t true.

“When I first heard Kobe died, I was with some friends, leaving a meeting. One of my friends told me and I was kind of annoyed because I thought he was making a joke,” Redmond said. “However, I opened my phone and it was everywhere. My heart literally sank and I couldn’t believe it.”

Kobe Bryant was a Black icon and a hero to many people. His teammates, basketball greats, former President Barack Obama, tennis star Naomi Osaka, Taylor Swift and Leonardo DiCaprio are among the many sports legends, celebrities and more who paid tribute to him after his passing, in recognition of his legacy.

Redmond notes his fearlessness and confidence on the court, creating Mamba Mentality, a mindset centered around doing whatever it takes to be the best version of yourself.

“I feel like I have taken those qualities with me when I play basketball, which has been a part in helping me play at the collegiate level,” Redmond said.

Kobe had a major influence on basketball both on and off the court. He set multiple NBA records, such as being the youngest player to start in an NBA game, and he was one of the two players to win four All-Star game MVPs.

He was also the first NBA player to win an Oscar with his 2017 animated film “Dear Basketball,” which brings to life a letter he wrote for The Players’ Tribune in 2015 announcing his retirement.

He left his mark on the world not only in records but in his work in youth sports with the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, a nonprofit organization created to uplift underserved athletes and young women in sports by providing funding and sports programming to athletes to enable their participation in school and league sports.

Redmond said Kobe’s legacy is set in stone through his leadership ability and ability to stand up to every challenge he faced — on and off the court. He was a fierce competitor and believed he was the best.

He backed it up with his work ethic, which led to him being considered one of the best NBA players of all time.

He also left behind a continuing legacy through storytelling via Granity Studios, the multimedia company developed from the production company he created in 2013. Through it, the world has more of his untold stories such as the “Epoca” and “Wizenard” series, both of which follow young athletes in quasi-fantasy worlds.

Kobe’s death was a devastating shock to many, including Redmond, and a reminder we aren’t going to live forever, so we should cherish the life we have and not let it go to waste.

“I realized that I can’t take for granted the lives of loved ones,” Redmond said, “and that I have to try and enjoy every second of my life. I learned from Kobe’s death that I should always live to the fullest, doing what makes me happy.”

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