Kobe Bryant’s life and his painful exit


Kobe Bryant became a household name in the mid ‘90s, being the youngest person to be drafted into the NBA(National Basketball Association), straight from high school,  and to play in an All star game. Many like myself spent our childhood, teenage or early adult years, at evening times, watching Kobe on TV play basketball.  We didn’t get a chance to meet him in person but we knew of him. I for one, even as a non-sport enthusiast, stayed glued to my TV during those years and could sit through the games because of players like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.  But Kobe was different- he was young, vibrant and brought a unique perspective to the game of basketball.

Photo credit: Sports Illustrated

You  could have easily loved Kobe,  whether you were a ‘Lakers’ fan or not. It was hard to hate him- his unrelenting doggedness, evident  talent and the tenacity that he brought to the game of basketball made he all the more endearing and made basketball a more respected game in the USA. He had a rigorous work-out routine and always said he couldn’t relate to lazy people. ‘We don’t speak the same language. I don’t understand you… I don’t want to understand you,’ Kobe once said.

Kobe always woke  up before 5am to work-out, while his team mates were still sleeping. He was known to consciously outwork every member of his team as a way to gain a competitive edge. This idea of outworking his peers came to him and proved very useful when he failed to exercise his talent at a summer basketball camp, where he didn’t get one score during the games, in his early teens. In his words, ‘I was very bad,’ and It was at that point that he realized that if he did the work and put in the effort, success would be possible. He continued  this workout and ‘plan to succeed’ routine with a fierce passion for the game, during the course of his two-decade career with the NBA, earning him the respect of his team members, fans, competitors and even critics. His ground breaking results on the ‘court,’ unique, and inspiring persona and incredible work ethic that hadn’t been seen in any other athlete across the league earned him the ‘huge’ respect and built the resulting legacy, which many of his fans and millions around the world now hold dearly. It is no surprise that Kobe went on be termed as a ‘legend’ that was truly invincible during his tenure in the NBA, which ended in 2016.  Post retirement, in 2018, in his autobiography, ‘the Mamba mentality, ‘he explains that the end goal is important but what is more important is the journey to reaching the end goal- the hard work, sleepless night and the resolve to win and not give up.

Kobe taught us that anything is possible once you put in ‘hard work, determination and consistency.’ He encouraged us to ‘focus on  your passion and whatever you love to do.’ Once you find it, pursue it with determination and give it all it will take to help you reach that goal – don’t find the easy way out, instead give your best shot to make your dreams and passion a reality,’

Kobe made an impact on me personally. In 1996, when he started playing in the NBA, I was in my second year in college and could relate to him as a teenager as well. He inspired me to reach for the skies, although unconsciously at the time, and served as role model for me to want to succeed the more.  ‘If Kobe could be successful in his game of basketball, I could succeed in college as well, ‘ i had often wondered at the time. I guess some people make such huge impact on your life and you don’t really realize how huge that impact is until they are gone.


In 2003, his progressive career and life was marred by a wrong’ choice of action that led to a lawsuit that was filed by a female employee, at a Colorado hotel, who accused him of rape.  Kobe insisted that he  that it was a consensual action and not rape. The case was later settled out of court but was a dark period in his life and affected the early years of his marriage to his wife, Vanessa, whom he later recommitted his love to years after. In his post retirement years, he evidently became a devoted husband and father to his wife and children, who where all girls. His devotion to his family earned him the nickname #girldad and he instantly became a role model to many other parents, particularly fathers, who believed that they can also become as devoted as Kobe was to his daughters and spouse.  The ‘dark period’ in his life, surprisingly, didn’t affect his stellar performance on the court but instead made him more determined to be better in a game that he was so passionate about. He was able to achieve this by creating the ‘ Black Mamba,’ an alter ego, to separate himself from the personal ordeals he was dealing with at the time and was successfully associated with this name for the rest of his life.

Kobe went on the become a five-time NBA Champion, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, NBA MVP, two-time NBA Finals MVP, 15-time All-NBA player, 18-time NBA All-Star and the NBA’s 3rd all-time leading scorer  during his 20 season career in the NBA with one single team (the Lakers). Two years after his retirement from the NBA, in 2018, he become an Academy-award winner of the Best Animated Short Film  ‘Dear Basketball.’ He also became a storyteller, after his retirement, something  he realized, later in life,  that he also had a passion for and discovered while he spent more time at home with his younger and third  daughter, Bianca , who was born in 2016. Through his studios @granity, he created  a number of books: Wizenard series, the Legend and the queen, and Epoca: the tree of Ecrof, middle grade novels, which landed in the top 3 spots of New York Best seller list a week after his tragic death. He had hoped to translate these books into ‘film’ in the near future.  Very sadly, his life and the life of his second daughter, Gigi, whom he had begun to coach in basketball, and who was becoming so great in the game , along with the lives of seven others were cut shot in a helicopter crash on Sunday, January 26, 2020, while they were on their way to play in a basketball tournament.


All you need to do, to find motivational quotes about Kobe, is  google his name’, Kobe Bryant,’ and you will find so many that are credited to his name. During the 4.1 decades of his purposeful life, he knew what he was wanted at different points in his life and pursued these goals with drive, passion, determination,  and with whatever was required or needed to meet those goals. Kobe said or professed ahead whatever he wanted  and got it but he always put in the ‘work.’

He didn’t want to be ‘Michael Jordan’ but better and he became  greater and better than Michael Jordan in basketball.

He wanted to get married to Vanessa, whom he met when she was 17, and he did, a year after they met,  despite the lack of support from his family.

He wanted to get a helicopter so that he could beat the rush hour Los Angeles (LA ) traffic and spend more time with his family. He did.

He wanted people to know him for something other than the ‘basketball.’ and so he retired and went on to do something different.  He started storytelling and created granity studios (@granity) and other business empires.

He was a devoted daddy to his children (all girls) and had his last two daughters,  Bianca and Capri, with his wife, Vanessa, after his retirement, in 2016 and 2019. Capri Kobe Bryant, his last daughter, was only born less than a year before his tragic death. His first two daughters, Natalia and Gigi (now deceased) were born in 2003 and 2006.

He was married to one wife, Vanessa Bryant. Despite the challenges that they faced together in their marriage, they stayed committed to each other and were married for 19 years before his death.

Despite rumors of his strained relationship with his parents, he credited his parents as being his initial role models and first teachers during his interview with John Lewis Howes in 2018. ‘My parent exposed me to a world of curiosity’ by moving the family to Italy. My mom was there for me on a daily basis and i learned that I could pursue whatever I wanted to do, provided that I put in the ‘work.’ His upbringing reinforced the belief that ‘you do the work, if you work hard enough, dreams come true.’ My hope is that he reconciled with his parents before his untimely death.

According to Kobe’ former league mate and friend, Tracy McGrady, whom had spend a lot of time with in the Bryant household, as ateeanger, Kobe always said ‘he wanted to die young and be immortalized,’ ‘He spoke this,’ and ‘he said it so much frequently’ that Tracy said it felt weird and wondered why he said this. Sadly, this one came to pass too. This revelation by Tracy really touched and saddened me because if Kobe knew that he was a man of potent words, he shouldn’t have said these words frequently. Kobe is survived by his retired parents, older sisters,vwife and daughters.  41 is such a young age for Kobe to have died despite the great impact he had made and I am sure he had more plans to impact our world and didn’t wish to die at 41 years with the unfulfilled dreams he had and are yet to be accomplished.


From Kobe’s story, we can learn a thing or two. We can learn about the possibility of becoming successful at whatever you have passion for; success doesn’t come overnight. It requires effort, determination and resilience:

We also can learn that you can become what you say. Words must be chosen carefully and not thrown around lightly. Choose to speak what you want like Kobe but I will add ‘think critically before you say or affirm your words.’ Words are life!!! The power of the tongue is huge. Life and death are in this power. ‘

For me, I am not sure why I am so drawn to this great man- one that had not only left a positive impact on the young, middle aged and old in the USA but also across continents and the world at large, but I will like to think of the fact that he was just a human being that served as an inspiration because he always came out stronger and better after every adversity that was thrown at him, whether on the ‘court,’ or ‘off the court.’ I will agree that ‘he had flaws but he was hero enough to overcome them,’ (TD Jakes). For me, I think his being human and the ability to have lived a purposeful life and with an intent to have always wanted to leave a huge impact  made him such an attractive person, even in death.


Now, why Kobe had to die by way of a helicopter crash along with his second daughter, who had a suspecting and bright WNBA future ahead of her, is heart wrenching and somewhat a mystery. There are still many more questions, in the minds of many like myself, that have been left unanswered.

I personally think that the crash could have been avoided: why was clearance given to only them, especially when the LA (Los Angeles) police had grounded their helicopters due to foggy weather conditions? Were all protocols observed? We can go on and on but unfortunately we can’t bring Kobe or other innocent occupants back to life- we can’t turn back the hand of the clock but we can learn from his legacy and apply some lessons to our life’s journeys that we must continue to pursue. My continued prayers are offered to Kobe’s family and the families of the other passengers  of the January 26, 2020 Callabas helicopter crash. Rip Kobe Bryant. Rip Gianna Bryant. Rip John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli, Rip Sarah and Payton Chester. Rip Christina Mauser. Rip Ara Zobayan ? ?