ASHFORD, Ala (WDHN) — January 26th is a sad day for the basketball world. It was a year ago that hall of fame basketball player Kobe Bryant passed away tragically in a helicopter accident with his daughter, Gianna.
Kobe as an athlete and a man impacted many throughout the country.
The five time NBA champion was just years removed from his retirement from the NBA. The man known as the “black mamba” will go down as one of the best scorers to ever pick up a basketball.
“Man for real I was heartbroken, my friend had passed away, and he played basketball, he was good, so I was like dang I can’t see him play no more…Kobe was real good,” said Ashford high school guard, Rickey McKay.
Kobe Bryant led the league in scoring two times but also was awarded one regular season MVP and was a two time finals MVP. As great as a player he was, it is his work ethic and mamba mentality that coaches will teach their players for decades to come.
“The most important thing is the Mamba Mentality and we have had the mamba mentality warm up shooter shirts since 2016 when he retired because that work ethic of being the best version of yourself everyday that Kobe put out into the world, I just want to always put that into my boys let them know that if they bring the mamba mentality we will be great as a team,” said Chase Lewis, head basketball coach at Ashford.
But Kobe wasn’t just a great player, he was a good man and a great father to his four daughters, and one of his most important impacts he had for basketball is what he was able to do for women’s hoops. Which is something that is felt throughout the basketball world.
“To see the time he put into GiGi’s work and the teams she was on is it means a lot to me and my team because when we have people watching us in the stands it means a lot to us because we are playing women’s basketball and girls basketball doesn’t get the same support as men’s basketball so him putting in the time and dedication to women’s basketball means a lot to us,” said Navaeh Williams, senior guard at Ashford.
Kobe Bryant was just 41 years old and Gianna, his daughter, who also passed away on that flight was just fourteen years old. Today she was an honorary draftee in the WNBA draft.