Growing up in Los Angeles has been such a wonderful experience for me. Disneyland, SoCal’s many beaches, and the delectable food brings so much happiness to its residents.
However, at least for me, only one part of living in Los Angeles legitimately shaped me as a human being from childhood to adulthood: Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
I do not remember everything about my childhood, but I *do* remember all of the parties, family gatherings, and crazy get-togethers that took place during Kobe’s illustrious career.
Now, before I delve into the ways the Mamba shaped me as a person, I truly have to give my thanks to my big brother Troy, whose rather dangerous love for the Lakers brought me into the fandom as a very young boy in the first place. If he did not help me understand stats, Phil Jackson’s plays (whom I referred to as ‘Field Jackson’ as a kid), and the players who represented our beautiful city, I would not be here writing this. Thanks for the help, Bro.
As a pretty unathletic kid, Kobe did not really shape me as a basketball player, despite having a killer shot and good footwork under the basket. Rather, he inspired me in the way he spoke, his worth ethic, and his fearless approach to every challenge.
I remember seeing Kobe’s acclaimed afro and the number 8 jersey swing crowds during the early 2000s as I sat on the couch in my parent’s living-room. He’d be facing opponents like Steve Nash, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Reggie Miller, Jason Kidd, and more.
I’d see Kobe do these amazing things with a basketball and think to myself, “Wow, this guy really, really wants to succeed.” Kobe was willing to destroy his body to bring Los Angeles a win in every game. That drive to succeed is what I wanted to apply to my own life.
I wanted to succeed in everything I did, whether it be in school or at home. If I messed up here and there, I wouldn’t let it get to me too much. Kobe lost plenty of games in his career and did not let a single one hurt his confidence. Sure, he was frustrated and angry at himself afterward, but he would always focus on the next challenge. He would never lose focus.
Here is a video from the 2015 season of Kobe Bryant on his Injury & their Losing Streak.
This type of mentality aided me through one of the toughest times of my life; The day my grandfather passed away. My grandfather was like a second father to me, since I spent most of my Summer vacations at his house.
When he passed on, I felt lost and alone. I felt like nothing made sense. However, thanks to the love and support from my family members, I entered the acceptance stage of grief and grew from there.
This mental strength and strive to move forward instead of backward came from watching Kobe Bryant and the Lakers growing up.
Today, the Lakers are retiring Kobe Bryant’s numbers during halftime against the Golden State Warriors. I can’t make any promises, but seeing this happen just might make me cry. It will bring back happy memories as a kid, spending time with my family and friends.
Now, when I go to Staples Center to see a Lakers game, I can look up and see two numbers that will always remind me to never give up and to strive for greatness each and every day. Thank you, Kobe.