Easily one of the best players in history, the five-time NBA champion was killed in a helicopter accident on January 26 that also claimed the lives of eight others, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. Kobe Bryant would have turned 42 on Sunday and Nike has released an incredible tribute video to mark the occasion.
The NBA career of Kobe Bryant
Following an All-American senior season at Lower Merion High School, Kobe Bryant was taken with the 13th overall pick in the famed 1996 NBA draft by the Charlotte Hornets and was then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. He spent two decades with the franchise and there really wasn’t anything that he didn’t accomplish.
In 20 seasons with the Lakers, Bryant won five NBA championships and was twice named NBA Finals MVP. Kobe was selected to the NBA All-Star Game 18 times and won the game’s MVP award four times, a record he shares with Bob Pettit. He was a 15-time All-NBA selection (11 First Team, 2 Second Team, 3 Third Team), a 12-time All-Defensive selection (9 First Team, 3 Second Team), a two-time scoring champion, and was named NBA MVP in 2008. He also won two Olympic gold medals.
Over the course of his career, Kobe Bryant scored 33,643 points, the most in LA Lakers history and good for fourth on the NBA’s all-time list behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, and LeBron James, who eerily passed Bryant the night before Kobe died. Bryant’s congratulatory tweet to LeBron was the last public message he ever sent out.
He died in a helicopter crash on the way to his daughter’s basketball game
On the morning of January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant and seven others boarded a helicopter at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, to head to Gianna’s basketball game at Mamba Sports Academy, a game which Bryant would have coached.
The helicopter crashed in Calabasas, approximately 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, immediately killing everyone on board. Visibility was very limited in the area that morning but the cause of the accident has never been determined. An early investigation showed no signs of engine failure and an autopsy performed on pilot Ara Zobayan detected no traces of drugs or alcohol. In addition to Zobayan and Gianna and Kobe Bryant, the crash claimed the lives of Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, John Altobelli, and Christina Mauser.
Numerous tributes were given to Kobe Bryant following his death and Nike has released another on what would have been the Black Mamba’s 42nd birthday.
Nike released a Kobe Bryant tribute video on what would have been his 42nd birthday
On Sunday, on what would have been Kobe Bryant’s 42nd birthday, Nike released a tribute video narrated by Kendrick Lamar highlighting the “Mamba Mentality.” Here’s how Nike describes the tribute, which goes by the name “Better.”
“Narrated by Kendrick Lamar, Better celebrates the universal relevance of progress and highlights Kobe’s prolific desire for improvement. The Mamba Mentality is about getting better, every day, in everything we do. In his own words, Kobe described his Mamba Mentality by saying, ‘It’s to constantly try to be the best version of yourself. It’s a constant quest to try to be better today than you were yesterday.’ While incremental change may feel small in the short term, those subtle shifts culminate to greater progress over time. This relentless drive for improvement is the legacy Kobe leaves.
Kobe taught us to be better: a better teacher, a better teammate, a better loser, a better winner. As Kendrick says in the film, “Just be better.” Whatever it is that you’re trying to improve — work to be better today than you were yesterday. That’s the Mamba Mentality.”Nike describing the new Kobe Bryant tribute
Take a look.
That certainly won’t be the only tribute to Kobe Bryant this week. Nike has a week of things planned, which includes the sale of special merchandise, and he’ll also be honored on Monday (8/24) in Orange County with the introduction of Kobe Bryant Day, which obviously speaks to the two jersey numbers he wore with the Lakers, both of which have been retired.