Yesterday, Kobe Bryant died at the age of 41. His daughter, Gianna, also lost her life at the age of 13. They are survived by daughters and siblings, Natalia (17), Bianka (3) and newborn Capri, as well as wife and mother Vanessa Bryant.
This tragedy has sent shockwaves through the worlds of pop culture, sports, and beyond. The inexplicable, unimaginable, horrifying helicopter crash also claimed the lives of seven others – beloved friends and family members whose lives were stolen from their loved ones far too soon, in a world where the top news stories only get more bleak, macabre, and exhausting by the day.
As a sports fan, you either loved Kobe Bryant, or you loved to hate him. There was no in between. Our local radio station’s Sean Grande, color commentator for the Boston Celtics, said it best:
Kobe was a competitor of titanic, legendary proportions, who always brought the best out of the players on both sides of the ball. If you grew up watching basketball, Kobe was either a hero or a heel, a visionary or a villain, but regardless of which side of the spectrum you landed on, you couldn’t deny how his passion, innovation, and drive elevated the game of basketball. Above all else, Kobe made you feel, and his impact on the game he devoted his life to cannot be understated, and will never be forgotten.
The Black Mamba was also heavily invested in the world of esports and gaming. A few months back, Kobe and his investment partner Jeff Stibel appeared on CNBC to discuss one of their newest ventures – a 100 million dollar investment into Epic Games and the Unreal Engine. Skip to 4:35 to hear Stibel discuss what made that investment such a priority for them.
Back in 2016, Kobe helped to promote the quarter-million dollar NBA 2K16 Road to the Finals Championship, and spoke about how strong his interest in the gaming world had become, mostly because the storytelling aspects that came along with it. In the full interview with USA Today, Kobe spoke about his growing interest in esports, gaming, and beyond.
I think people are really interested in watching people problem solve. It doesn’t matter what industry. People are very fascinated by that — seeing the struggles people go through and how they overcome it. I think this was just a matter of time before it caught fire. To be able to sit and watch a performance on TV and watch how the gamers are figuring out those challenges amongst themselves, you can’t help but be interested.– Kobe Bryant, “Kobe Bryant on retirement, ‘mentors’ like Anna Wintour, and his advice for Kevin Durant” (USA Today)
Most recently, Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy – a “full-circle facility designed to update the way men, women and youth approach human performance”, introduced the Mamba Esports Center. The facility was created inn partnership with HyperX, and features fantasy camps with pro gamers, private coaching spaces and lessons, a full arena for brand-sponsored competitive play, and areas for amateur, recreational, and corporate events.
Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of interest or knowledge in the world of basketball, Kobe Bryant’s legacy and impact on the world surpasses that of a single sport. His drive to compete and succeed, his example set as a father and a mentor, and his dedication to winning in the world of sport, business, film, and beyond can be felt by anyone. The world truly will never see another Kobe Bryant, and will not be the same without him.
Our sincerest sympathies, prayers, and condolences to the Bryant family, and to all other families and friends involved. May all of the victims of this senseless, heartbreaking tragedy find solace in knowing that their loved ones’ legacies will live on forever in the hearts and minds of people around the world.