The NBA, Los Angeles, the world, and many individuals’ lives were forever changed on Sunday, January 26th. During that afternoon in Calabasas, CA, Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant, and seven other individuals lost their lives in a helicopter accident.
I, like many Lakers fans in the world, spent the rest of my Sunday grieving. I called my mom as soon as I could and talked to her about how much my late father, my brother, and I loved Kobe Bean Bryant and how he carried himself day-in and day-out while wearing the purple-and-gold. Mostly though, we cried.
It was an extremely emotional day as I thought of what my dad and I would talk about if he were here. That seemed to pale in comparison to the thought of the Bryant family losing their patriarch and their dear, sweet GiGi. One can’t forget the seven other individuals in the helicopter who lost their lives, as multiple families will be directly affected by this forever.
Today while I was at my job I was trying to think of the best way to honor Kobe’s legacy with an article of some kind. I thought of expanding on my personal story involving my family, and how watching the Lakers on Christmas Day was more of a tradition than Christmas itself. I thought of trying to lighten the mood by collecting the funniest moments and memes created by Kobe. I decided both would be somewhat hollow of me to do, but if you do want some Kobe related laughs, check out the replies to this tweet.
Instead, I started thinking about what Kobe would do if he was hurting as much as all of us. I then found this video.
— #MambaForever (@donny_mchenry) January 26, 2020
“Have a good time. Enjoy life. Life is too short to get bogged down and be discouraged. You have to keep movin’, you have to keep going, put one foot in front of the other, smile, and just keep on rollin'”
With that video, I was able to get throughout the day. I finally felt like I was able to have some clarity about the situation instead of being down in the dumps about it. I then thought about how I, as a random dude in Chicago, could honor Kobe’s legacy. Once the word “legacy” popped into my mind, one phrase popped into my mind.
Kobe’s infamous (and usually scoffed at) catchphrase embodied his intensity that he exhibited on the court. But even more so, he embodied this phrase off the court when no one was looking. To better explain what “Mamba Mentality” is, I’ll let the man himself explain it.
“To sum up what Mamba Mentality is, it means to be able to constantly try to be the best version of yourself,” Bryant said. “That is what the Mentality is,” he added. “It’s a constant quest to try to better today than you were yesterday.”
There are so many stories that I could pick from to show how hard Kobe tried to better himself on the court every day. My favorite is when a Team USA trainer realized Kobe spent his time from 4:15 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. making 800 jumpers, just in time for Team USA’s practice for that day. Or Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade recounting Kobe’s time with them on Team USA, where they would wake up for 8:00 a.m. breakfast and Kobe would already be drenched in sweat with ice on his knees.
Following his retirement, he couldn’t stop trying to better himself. He became a full-fledged businessman, morphing the sports drink BodyArmor from a $3 million in annual sales business to a $200 million in annual sales business today. More important than that, he became the best father he could be with basketball out of his life. But, of course, GiGi showed she had a little “Mambacita” inside of her, asking her dad for NBA League Pass and even convincing him to take her to a couple of games this year.
Time for us to make “Mamba Mentality” last forever
Kobe made himself the best version of himself that he could be whether that was on the hardwood, in business, or in fatherhood. He did this through his “Mamba Mentality”. Now we have to do it.
Personally, I’ll be trying to lose 24 pounds in honor of Kobe. I’ve been meaning to lose a little weight for years now. I’ve felt inspired by the 24-second shot clock violations that have been used by the NBA’s best to give a “24” tribute of my own. How am I going to do it? By thinking of Kobe Bryant sweating his ass off in an empty gym at 5:00 a.m., just so he could beat up on someone in front of the entire world.
I wanted to write this and talk about Kobe’s “Mamba Mentality” and how I was going to honor him by using it, but I also wanted to write this to challenge whoever is reading. Try making yourself better. Whether that’s physically, mentally, or through making someone else’s life better. Read 24 books this year, or, just read 24 pages of a book tonight. Get to work 24 minutes earlier than the rest of your co-workers. Do 24 push-ups. Hell, you can even use the number 8, luckily Kobe wore two jerseys.
Don’t stop with individual “24” or “8” goals to better yourself. Better yourself through the relationships with your closest friends and family. Take 8 minutes and call your mother, your father, your son, your daughter, your brother, your sister, your best friend, anyone you love. Who knows, maybe you’ll be lucky enough for the conversation to turn into a 24-minute one, or even longer.
It doesn’t take a “Mamba Mentality” to do that.