Remembering Mamba & Mambacita

January 26 marked the one year anniversary of Kobe Bryant’s tragic death, alongside his daughter Gigi, and seven other passengers


Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

Brianna Ottey, Sports Writer

Tuesday marked the one year anniversary of the tragic helicopter crash that killed nine people, including NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna Bryant. As Lakers fans and sports fanatics mourned their deaths, people all over the world honored them with tributes. 

Bryant and his wife, Vanessa Bryant, had four daughters. Gianna, also known as Gigi, was the only one who pursued a basketball career, bonding with her father more closely because of their mutual love for the game. As Bryant retired, he found much joy in watching his daughter uphold the Bryant name and carry on his legacy. He became committed to training and coaching her, pushing her to reach her full potential. Many fans stated that Gigi was the female version of her father, confident that she had a bright future ahead of her. 

“God knew they couldn’t be on this Earth without each other. He had to bring them home to heaven together,” said Vanessa at Bryant’s memorial in February 2020. “Babe, you take care of our Gigi. I got Nani, BB and Coco.”

The helicopter was headed to Thousand Oaks for one of Gianna’s tournaments. While she was young (only 13 at the time of her death), she actively fought for gender equality, particularly over the pay difference between professional male and female athletes. Gigi instilled a sense of hope for many young women players, redefining the meaning of playing like a girl. Additionally, Bryant developed a profound respect for the WNBA because Gianna had plans to play in the league.

In a 2018 interview with late night talkshow host (and friend), Bryant said, “The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans come up to me, and she’ll be standing next to me and they’ll be like: ‘You’ve got to have a boy. You and [wife Vanessa] have got to have a boy, someone to carry on the tradition, the legacy.’ And she’s like, ‘Oh, I got this.’ ”  

Bryant is remembered as one of the best to ever play. His talents on the court were arguably unmatchable, and he ended his career with five NBA championships, 18 All-Star appearances and an MVP award, leaving behind his famous “Mamba Mentality.”

“Mamba mentality is all about focusing on the process and trusting in the hard work when it matters most,” said Bryant in a 2018 interview with Amazon Book Review. “It’s the ultimate mantra for the competitive spirit. It started just as a hashtag that came to me one day, and it’s grown into something athletes — and even non-athletes — embrace as a mindset.”

Off the court, Bryant continued to motivate others through his charitable work. He was a supporter of After-School All-Stars and the Boys and Girls Club of America, both of which are charities that provide after school programs for children in need. Furthermore, he started the Mamba Sports Academy, which focused on mentoring young athletes. He also visited high school students to coach them, giving them advice on how to become a better player.

In remembrance of Bryant, fans flooded their social media with their favorite photos, videos, artworks, murals and quotes from him. Some even visited the Sports Academy and left basketballs, flowers, candles and stuffed animals, while others went to a scene located near the crash and participated in moments of silence and shed tears. Some of his former teammates and admirers wore his jersey numbers, #24 and #8, in honor of him. Lebron James, a current LA Laker, Bryant’s team, posted on his social media, “There’s a lot of things that die in this world, but legends never die, and he’s exactly that.”