Moments that matter happen few and far between. You know it almost immediately. At least once the shock fades away. The Bible tells us not to worship false idols, yet our parents raise us to look up to heroes. They are often celebrities, world leaders, musicians, and athletes. Individuals who become legends while living. They became more than what they do. You cannot define or describe them by their accomplishments alone. They are more than that. We all know who these people are. They are the great ones among us. More often than not, the truly great ones leave us when most folks do. Old age. But, there are rare moments when a great one leaves us too soon. Tragically, this is Kobe Bryant.
To understand the gravity behind his untimely death, one must comprehend the magnitude of his influence while among us. The obvious is basketball. He played every season with the Lakers. Not just any team. The team in the NBA. He carried the torch that only a few stars have been able to do. His name is up there with Shaq, Magic, Kareem, and Wilt. His on-the-court accomplishments are amazing. Few athletes in any sport have ever reached the level of success he did. Championships galore, all star games, dunk contest champ, MVPs, Finals MVP, Olympic gold, and the list goes on. This alone puts him on the list of not only one of the best basketball players we have ever seen, but one of the best athletes.
So, why is Kobe even a bigger deal than that? Kobe had an aura that surrounded him. He first modeled his game after Dr J. Then, he tried to be better than MJ. Finally, he became the Black Mamba. He did what few ever do. Not just in sports, but in life. He elevated himself to levels few ever reach. He became a living legend.
Once he finally reached this place, after relentless determination and drive, it was the world’s turn to understand how. He let us into his life. He told us how he accomplished such an incredible feat. He had a continuous pursuit for perfection that many strive for but few achieve. He coined this the Mamba Mentality. It became synonymous with describing Kobe.
This mentality could be used in aspects outside of athletics. It was a mentality that would take any individual to greatness if they opted to take the chance and focus on the prize. He inspired us all. He taught us by showing us.
His methodology was simple. Try hard, and keep trying. Have your eye set on a particular achievement and be relentless in your pursuit of it. Never give up. He was a true fighter. He was never going to stop. He was the real life example of leaving it all on the court. There was never going to be a reason he would quit until he was physically unable to go any further. We saw this when he ripped his Achilles and stayed on the court to shoot his free throws. Never more of a Kobe moment.
He taught us so much. He told us, but more importantly, he showed us how we can be the best person imaginable. He showed us how we can fight for success, and accomplish greatness if we truly want it. He was the embodiment of inspiration. We will never again see someone like Kobe. He was so amazing that he defined a generation. We shoot trash into a wastebasket and shout ‘Kobe’ as we attempt our shot. We will never see someone fight to acquire all of the potential inside himself ever again. We’ll never witness someone exhibit more focus and determination. He was truly one of a kind.
There is so much we can learn from this man. He showed us everything. It doesn’t matter what aspect of life we are trying to succeed in. Athletics, or anything else. His process, determination, dreams, and focus are all we need. We can reach for whatever we want and we will grab it if we follow his path. His mentality is all we need.
A generation grew up watching this happen. Michael Jordan captivated our imagination. He reinvented a game. He became more than the game. We then grew up to ads showing us how to be ‘Like Mike.’ Kobe watched him in awe and did nothing but strive to become more than Mike. We grew up watching that. We saw what happens when someone tries to be better than great. They become Kobe.
He inspired all of us in one way or another. He taught us all something. He showed us how we can become better versions of ourselves and that is something very few people will ever do for us. He encouraged us to be great, and when and if we reach the moment, he wanted us to be better. He was the ultimate role model. We could only be so blessed to have had this idol in our lives.
For you Kobe, I will always be forever grateful that you showed me, and everyone else, the way. You blazed a trail that almost no one could. You taught us how to acquire greatness, and how we should strive for nothing but the best. You inspired all of us. You showed us all how to become a better person. You gave us everything, even when you thought you had more to give us. We could only be so fortunate to have lived among you… you legend.
We can live in your honor by striving to become the best version of ourself.