On Sunday, Jan. 26, the world learned of the tragic deaths of Sarah Chester, Gianna Bryant, Payton Chester, Keri Altobelli, John Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Ara Zobayan, Alyssa Altobelli and Kobe Bryant.

Kobe was a retired NBA player known as “The Black Mamba,” and had what was called the “Mamba Mentality.”

He had God-given talent, but he worked harder than anyone else. He spent time in the gym prior to games, after games and on his off days.

Kobe Bryant was not perfect, nobody is, and he never said he was perfect. I think that sums up what Mamba Mentality means, striving to be perfect although you know you will never reach that goal.

He was an idol to kids in his early years and a mentor to younger players in his later years. However, Kobe’s legacy goes beyond basketball. He was also a father and a husband. So, it really bothers me when people say he is only being celebrated because he could shoot a basketball. He scored a 1080 on his SAT, which means he could have probably gone to any college he wanted.

He also made music. While it was not always well-received, it made an impact. He was featured on a song with a Taiwanese singer, Jay Chou, and the proceeds from downloads of the song went to impoverished schools for basketball facilities and equipment.

In 2018, after he had been two years retired from the NBA, he wrote a children’s book and won an Academy Award for his short-animated film, “Dear Basketball.”

Kobe also built the Mamba Academy, a training facility for children and teenagers in several different sports. This is where his helicopter was headed the day of the crash.

Kobe, with his daughter Gigi, was on his way to a youth basketball game. There is a heart-wrenching photo of the people in the gym waiting for his arrival that day when the news came out about his death.

As a basketball fan, yes, this hurts because he meant so much to the game. As a father – I’m having a hard time writing this part – it hurts because I would never want to imagine being in a position to where I am holding my daughters saying everything is going to be okay when I know there’s a possibility it won’t. That’s part of the Mamba Mentality, staying calm and focused in the most intense situations.

So what does this have to do with Taylor? If one kid wanted to be like Kobe and decided to work as hard as he did, he helped Taylor.

Kobe Bryant, flaws and all, helped make the world a better place by being the best. He was a competitor, a hard worker and just a regular person.

That’s the Mamba Mentality.

I’m going to get off my soapbox now. No witty comment to end this week. Just do me a favor and hug someone close to you and remind them that you love them.

“The most important thing is to try to inspire people so they can be great in whatever they want to do.”

- Kobe Bryant

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