Every generation has their where were you when moment. For my parents generation it was the Kennedy assassination. For my generation it was when, Kurt Cobain died and of course 9/11. Sadly we can add the events of January 26, 2020 to that list. On a foggy day in Calabasas at 9:45 in the morning Kobe Bryant and his 13 year old daughter’s helicopter slammed into a mountain side killing all 7 people. When I fist saw the news on television it didn’t feel real. After seeing all the post on social media all I could do was hope it was another fake celebrity death story. Then it was finally confirmed. The media started reporting that Kobe with with his daughter and her teammates on the way to headed to a basketball game at the Mamba Sports Academy’s Thousand Oaks.
After hearing the news about Gianna. All I could do was think of Kobe’s wife Vanessa and her two other young daughters. My thoughts went back to all of the games I got to witness on television and in person. Kobe was the second greatest player I’ve ever seen play the game. growing up in Yonkers New York I was a Knicks fan. I even got to attend a number of Play Off Games in the late 80’s and early 90’s. As a young child however, I use to root for The Philadelphia 76ers. My dad grew up in South Jersey and always followed the hers. H e even sent me off to Dr J’s basketball camp at Fordham University in the Bronx (but that is another story). Back in the 80’s the 76ers biggest rival was the Boston Celtics. Even though my mom and other family member scam from Boston for some reason I just really hated the Celtics. unfortunately with the exception of 1 year the Celtics would Always knock the Sixers, out of the Play offs. The celtics main rival from the Western Conference was the Los Angeles Lakers. When it came time for the NBA Finals I would always root for the showtime Lakers. At that point I never knew that The Lakers would end up being my home team.
Kobe Bryant The Early Years
I first started hearing about Kobe around 1995. I thought to myself this kid is too young. How can a teenager in the NBA. However Kobe may have skipped college but he did play in Italy where he grew up. His dad is NBA player Joe Bryant, Kobe declared for the 1996 NBA draft after graduation, and was picked by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th overall pick; the Hornets then traded him to the Lakers. That trade would forever change the Los Angeles Lakers. In May, 1997 I moved from Yonkers to Sherman Oaks, California. There I had a coup friends who lived there already. In November, I had a bucket list item crossed off my list. After years of seeing the great western Forum on television, I was actually going to see a Lakers game at the historical venue. I along with two friends from New York we attended the New York Knicks v.s. Los Angeles Lakers, game on November 7, 1997. Kobe came off the bench and scored 4 points. I defiantly saw potential. The Lakers won 99-94. Bryant won the 1997 Slam Dunk Contest, at the All-star game. He then along with with Shaquille O’Neal, helped win three consecutive NBA championships from 2000 to 2002 and to titles in 2008&2009 without Shauq.
After suffering through years on watching my Knick’s get nocked out of the Play Offs, (thanks to Jordan). I have to admit it was exciting to be a Laker fan those years. The 2002 season will always be special to me. I attended a game in the second, third and in June 2002 I was able to cross off attending a NBA Finals game in June. One of the games I attended was the game where with less than one second remaining on the clock, Robert Horry of the Los Lakers recovered the ball and made a three-point shot over Sacramento Kings’ Chris Webber to win Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference Finals at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on May 26, 2002. The Lakers would go on to beat the New Jersey Nets to complete their three-peat.
American Film Institute’s 44th Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute to John Williams
I would go on to see Kobe, grow from boy to man. He had an unforgettable smile abut never had a big ego. Sadly I never had the chance to meet him.I did however get a chance to photography him on the red carpet for American Film Institute’s 44th Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute to John Williams. Bryant had worked with Williams on the his 2018 Oscar for Best Animated Short Film ‘Dear Basketball’. Kobe walked the very crowded carpet. He seemed to be having the time of his life taking it all in. He was so proud of his Oscar, Laughing and chatting with J.J. Abrams and other celebrities. Kobe had been working on several projects at the time of his death.
The role that Kobe loved the best was being a Girldad. Kobe Bryant left a legacy from his 20 year, Laker career. He wasn’t just a great player he was a great person helping numerous charities. You could have seen him as a coach or possibly an owner of an NBA Team. Bryant was called “one of the greatest players in the history of our game” by NBA commissioner Adam Silver,. The NBA mourned for one of its own. One thing is sure, Kobe will never be forgotten.
“To honor our Team Mamba family, the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up the MambaOnThree Fund to help support the other families affected by this tragedy. To donate, please go to MambaOnThree.org.”