Kobe Bryant

by Jesse Zaragoza from North Hollywood, California in United States

A hero is a person who has significantly impacted somebody’s life in one way or another. That hero can be the reason for many things in that person’s life, examples being if they want to grow up and be like their hero, or pushing themselves to mirror or even surpass their hero. A hero gives the pathway to others on how to become great. My hero is someone whom I have idolized the majority of my life. His name is Kobe Bryant.

From a young age I have always loved both playing and watching sports. Throughout my childhood I always liked football more than any other sports. I was and still am a die hard Chargers fan. My original hero was Chargers superstar Ladanian Tomlinson. The way he moved gracefully, the power he showed by pushing defenders off of him, and the speed were unreal to me. Just like many kids my age, I wanted to grow up to be a big time NFL running back. At the time the Chargers were capable of winning a couple Super Bowls, but that never came to fruition. This was around the time I actually learned what it meant if a team/player won a championship. This is where everything switched from Ladainian Tomlinson to Kobe Bryant in a matter of one year. 

A majority if not all of the world knows who Kobe Bryant was. The Lakers legend, The Greatest Of All Time, The Black Mamba, you name it. Kobe originally became my hero due to the fact that he played for my hometown team and was a really good player. It was in 2008 when he won his only MVP that Kobe actually caught my eye: seeing the dominance he demonstrated in every game, never folding under pressure, and getting back to the top after he lost everything. It was a pivotal moment in Kobe’s career, where he was at a fork in the road. Losing to the Celtics that season in the finals would be the best thing to happen to both him and my life. His because he would come back the next season on a mission for vengeance and wasn’t going to be satisfied with anything unless it was a championship. That determination he had played a big part in my life because it showed that if someone is dedicated enough to put in all that work, it would all play out in the end. And in the end it did end up playing out for him. He won back to back titles in 2009-2010 and cemented his legacy as an all-time great. 

The Kobe Bryant I knew was someone who had supreme confidence and wasn’t afraid to take any risks, in fact he welcomed it. Enjoyed the adrenaline that came along with it. Now that isn’t normal to most people, but he wasn’t a normal person. In a psychotic way, Kobe was an extreme winner. Wouldn’t stop unless he was first place or the best. I learned how to be confident because of him. Not to care what people think about me, especially those that I don’t even know. That if I was going to do something, I had to be 100% invested in it and not give up during but grind it out until the end. It’s crazy how a basketball player could teach a life lesson of hard work such as this. That’s the reason why he was great, because of all the time he invested to become a master at his craft. And the thing is, with his mentality, it doesn’t solely stick to basketball or sports. This type of mentality, the Mamba Mentality, can be used towards anything. Just to go out there and dominate the competition. 

Now post career Kobe even impacted me because it was last year when I became a head coach for a middle school for multiple sports. I was ready to give my all and make sure to teach my kids everything that I knew. Watching Kobe coach his daughter Gianna and invest so much time into the children of the Mamba Academy touched me. It was just a coincidence that we both started coaching around the same time, but I learned a lot from him in that aspect. How to approach kids in a manner where they can understand schemes and signals at 10 to 11 years old. We ended up going undefeated my first season as the football coach. And what made me happy wasn’t the fact that we won every game, but it was the fact that the kids learned how to be respectful to each other and play for each other not just themselves, all while having fun both for them and myself. That was my goal to give them the ropes on how to be successful young men and how to inhabit the Mamba Mentality even at a young age. 

Another coincidence that both he and I had in common was that we love storytelling. I attended California State University Northridge to become a broadcast journalist. I loved storytelling because it was a way to express myself. Kobe did the exact same thing after retiring. When I heard he wanted to become a storyteller and started releasing books, it was cool for me because he could show a way to be successful in that aspect of my life. My mentor would help me both on and off the field. Not many people can say that, I think especially since they have the interests. I’ve read his books and was in astonishment in his writing because it contained details which makes the story stand out even more. As a person who is very detail oriented, his books really struck me. If he showed me anything with this, it is that he could dominate anything if he put his mind to it. Which is an approach that is applicable to everyone. In the words of Kobe, “Different animal, same beast.” 

When I got the call on the morning of January 26th this year that Kobe had passed away, I was in annoyance and anger because that was something to not mess around with. It wasn’t until I opened up Twitter and saw the post for myself. Right then and there a part of me had gone. It felt as if I had lost a family member even though I had never met him. It was a pain that I couldn’t describe to you with words. I cried a couple of times that day because I had lost my hero. But if Kobe were here to say anything to me about mourning over him, it would be him calling me soft and to get back to work. Life keeps going, and it’ll only be as good as you want to make it. Kobe originally became my hero due to athletic reasons, but as I got older and started to realize who he was as a person and what he stood for, he became my hero because of the great human being that he was.

Page created on 7/22/2020 4:43:12 PM

Last edited 10/16/2020 2:47:48 AM

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