It’s hard to put it into perspective of the recent loss of Kobe Bryant.
I was just sitting in the recliner on a relaxing Sunday and I checked a group chat that I’m in and one of my friends said “RIP Kobe”.
I then quickly pulled up Twitter and there it was.
One of the greatest competitors of all-time and the basketball player that comes as close as there is to MJ, had died tragically at the age of 41. To make it more heartbreaking, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were aboard the helicopter that crashed.
My heart sank. I’m not a Lakers fan and cheered against Kobe, especially in the 2010 NBA Finals, but understood his greatness. I also admired what he had been doing after basketball and recently listened to a podcast he was on and I was instantly a Kobe fan.
As a huge sports fan, Kobe was an athlete that defined my childhood and into my early adult years. He was a legend and it’s so hard to believe in the blink of an eye, he’s gone.
I like to write and this is what I have. Here are four lessons we can all learn from the guy known as The Black Mamba.
To be rewarded, you must put in the work. Nothing comes easy and Kobe, like many of the all-time greats, was a tireless worker. Putting in 3 am, 4 am, 5 am sessions, he did whatever it took to get better and if he was going to be beaten, it wasn’t because someone outworked him. When you combine that relentless attitude with world-class talent, you have one of the all-time greats. Jay Williams, a former NBA player and now ESPN analyst, spoke of Kobe after learning of his death and told a story of how he was awestruck of Kobe working out before the game. He was putting up shot after shot. Jay asked him about it after the game and he told him he wanted to let him know that he wasn’t going to be outworked. That’s Kobe.
No one achieves greatness by resting on their laurels, so what is the extra thing you are going to do today to get a leg up? We preach about 1% better every day. What is your 1% better today? Kobe defined that and then some.
Kobe was an assassin on the court. He had the finishing instinct that very few have and the only one that comes to mind is Michael Jordan. When the game was on the line, Kobe had the ball. When his team needed a lift, they looked to Kobe. When he knew his opponent had a weakness, he attacked. Kobe never let up and that’s why he was one of the all-time greats. His nickname was The Black Mamba and that’s because he attacked. He challenged his teammates to be better. When Kobe was on the court, nothing was going to stop him. Heck, the last game of his career he dropped 60 points and near the end of his career, he tore his Achilles tendon but stayed in the game to shoot the free throws. That’s the Mamba Mentality.
What can you do in your life to challenge others? What goals do you have that light a fire under you and you won’t be stopped from achieving them?
Kobe loved basketball, and while I had no personal connection to him, it was clear that he loved his family. The stories coming out and especially the post-retirement ones showed that family was first and he had a special bond with his loved ones. Don’t forget to tell someone you love them or spend time with them when you can because while you can have big dreams and I believe you can achieve them, you never know when your time is up.
Go tell someone you love them. You won’t regret it.
BE A CHANGEMAKER
Kobe changed the game. Growing up, I was a Michael Jordan fan but I was only 10 years old when Jordan won his last title and the “torch” was passed to Kobe. I always cheered against Kobe because the Lakers were so damn good. The Sacramento Kings and Portland Trailblazers teams were loaded but they could never get past Kobe, Shaq and the Lakers. Those were some all-time battles back in the day.
Kobe was a guy we always tried to emulate playing pick-up basketball as a kid. We’d put up shot after shot and even when I was playing by myself, I’d announce my own shot and try to do some of Kobe’s moves.
Kobe changed the game as one of the all-time greats on the court but he also changed it off the court.
He started an investment firm. He started a production company and he wrote and produced a documentary that won an Academy Award. He wrote children’s books. He coached his kid’s basketball team. He was fluent in three languages. He was more than just a basketball player. He was an icon.
What are you going to do to change the world? You don’t have to be a basketball star to do it. All it takes is setting the example and inspiring one and you are a changemaker. Go do it.
Kobe defines being a “cleaner.” In his book “Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable”, author and former trainer of Kobe, MJ and Dwayne Wade talks about what it takes to be the best, to be unstoppable, to be a cleaner.
Kobe and a very short list of people are cleaners. They are the ones that are never satisfied with being great. They want to be better. They are obsessed with getting results and will do anything to be the best. They practice their craft relentlessly and that is why they are the best.
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. You don’t have to be in the armed forces to be a hero. People who protect our country are heroes every day, but that doesn’t mean someone who inspired others to do their best and become the best version of themselves isn’t a hero too. Kobe was a hero to my generation and as someone who never was going to come near the NBA, I will take that Mamba Mentality with me in everyday life.
Rest in peace, Kobe, his daughter and the others in the helicopter who died so tragically. Your memories will live on.
Go do great things today everyone. I know you can do it.