It’s weird to think that someone I have never met had such a huge impact on my life.
Kobe Bryant died today in a devastating Helicopter crash. He was only 41.
I remember going to LA for the first time when I was a kid in the early 2000s, I was sitting in my cousins living room, and they would start screaming. Why? Because this guy: Kobe Byrant had just made another basket, made another impossible three and of course a huge dunk at the rim and the Lakers were going to win the game.
I knew that I loved basketball, that I was already sure of, but in that moment, sitting in my cousins living room, I knew for certain: I am a Laker for life. This is my team, Kobe is my guy.
I bought my first NBA jersey that trip, a Kobe jersey that I still have to this day (I have about four more in my cupboard all with Kobe’s number/s). It’s the same jersey that I wore in 2010 after the Lakers had won the championship, Kobe jersey hidden under my school shirt, my team were world champions and I wanted everyone to know it.
I remember sitting in my grandpa’s house, side by side on the couch, watching the Lakers take on the Spurs and I said to my grandpa: See that guy, that’s Kobe, he’s the greatest of all time. And my Grandpa, wise as ever, just nodded, he knew.
For years I watched Kobe, every tough win and devastating loss, watched him win championships, wins MVP, watched as he tore his Achilles and watched when he finished his career with a 60 point game. Black Mama and White Thunder were my two favourite players in the world. Shaq and Kobe were one of the most dynamic duos the world had ever seen but for me whenever Pau Gasol stepped on the court with Kobe Bryant, I knew something special was going to happen.
Kobe Bryant, Black Mamba, the Oscar winner, the greatest Laker I ever knew, thank you for all you have given us. Thank you for those clutch shots, the championships and never giving up on your dreams.
The basketball world is in mourning after the loss of one of the greatest of all time… And so am I.
To the man who made me love basketball, thank you.