There are few hidden treasures in this world. Amongst them, Kobe Bryant. Considering his gateway into sports, some may say he was destined to leave his mark on this planet utilizing his skills, gifts and talents. In 1975, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant, was a professional athlete who played basketball for the Philadelphia 76ers. The same year, he married the love of his life, Pamela Cox Bryant. Today, they have remained married for over 40 years. Within their union, they eventually expanded to a family of five since welcoming two daughters and a son.
By his own admission, Kobe was raised in a loving and caring environment. During an interview, he shared failing to make one basket the entire summer during camp. It was his father’s words reminding him, he was loved, no matter what.
Although some people associate sports with lucrative contracts and glamorous lifestyles, there was no guarantee that Kobe would excel professionally or personally. Yet, not only did he exceed expectations in his chosen occupation, he overcame many challenges and obstacles that he encountered daily on, and off the court.
Arguably, some may say that his competitive spirit, consistency and fearless character was groomed in Philly. Long gone are the days when Woodville Jackson and Leon Baker Jr., watched in amazement while Kobe, and one of his child-hood friends from the Wynnefield section of Philadelphia, squared-up playing street ball. Like an eagle headed into the eye of a storm, with keen vision, Kobe always ascended to the rim assertively. Innately, he knew who he was, and the gift he possessed. With wisdom, he also understood it took opposition to help bring out the best in him as a young man and later, as a great athlete.
Yes Kobe was a true Laker at heart, and rightfully so with 20 years of dedication to the organization. However, he was also born and raised in Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. The land that former slaves, such as Harriett Tubman escaped to, seeking freedom. The homeland of the 13 original colonies, where the Constitution, and Declaration of Independence were signed. A tough yet historical city forever forged in the nation’s history books.
Just as the City of Philadelphia shares a rare history throughout our nation’s birth, Kobe was unique. His focus was so sharpened that he established his own attitude of mind, the Mamba mentality. He understood who he was and what it took to accomplish his goals. This is a life lesson that he has left for us all to share for generations to come. During this time of mourning, it is also a climate of celebration because Kobe Bryant inspired others deeply throughout his life’s journey. While I could make mention of all his accolades and the athletic records broken, it was his faith in God, determination, work ethic, philanthropy, social responsibility, accountability and above all, his love for his family that made him second to none, as a man on his journey.
During his retirement, Kobe has mentioned, the most important thing to him was spending time with his beloved wife, Vanessa, and lovely daughters, Gianna, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri Bryant. With this in mind, knowing his likeness ended on earth in the physical form while developing the life of his child, speaks volumes about the measure of the man he truly was. Their bond was so interconnected and indestructible in this life, that they transitioned into the next, together. A true love story between a daddy and his daughter was theirs by example.
The number 2 has been a consistent theme throughout Kobe’s journey. It represents balance, harmony and union. Until eternity, in the game of basketball, the numbers 2 and 24 will adorn their jerseys. He is forever beloved by 2 cities that shaped the trajectory of his career’s imprint, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. He began his journey in life saturated in love by the family God gifted him in his parents, and siblings, Sharia and Shay Bryant. He ended his journey on earth, protecting and providing for the family he built with the love of his life and their children.
Many continued prayers to all of the families and communities impacted by the many lives lost that dreadful morning on 1-26-2020. At the end of this day, 2-24-2020 around the world, so many will have celebrated the life, love and legacy of Philadelphia’s black pearl.
RIP Kobe “Bean” Bryant #24
RIP Gianna Bryant #2