On Jan. 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant and eight others died in a tragic helicopter accident. This incident left both the sports and pop culture worlds in shock. Some people had no idea how to process the news that one of the biggest and most controversial basketball players died only a day after LeBron James passed him on the all-time scoring list. When I first saw the news, I was in shock. Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of Bryant, I was a fan of his playing. Bryant, through his personality and skill, made many people into basketball fans.
The biggest contribution Bryant gave to sports was the philosophy he put in the book “The Mamba Mentality.” He preached endlessly about how hard work and goals can let you do anything to which you aspire. Some players today use Mamba Mentality as their philosophy in playing and in their personal lives. Some have even come out in the wake of his death and said he was the sole reason for them deciding to become a basketball player.
Although Bryant has made mistakes in the past, he has attempted to make amends. Perhaps the biggest advancements he has made in regards to women’s basketball. Ever since his daughter Gianna, who also died in the tragic accident, wanted to play basketball, he decided to put all his energy into improving everything he could when it came to making women’s and men’s basketball equal. Partly due to his efforts, the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) has introduced a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that improves pay, guarantees pregnant players all of their salaries and improves mental health policies. Because Bryant is someone of high stature, him pushing for these changes has led to the WNBA getting noticed and covered more often.
To me, the worst part about this accident isn’t that a celebrity died. What really hits home for me is the death of the three middle school girls – Gianna Bryant, Alyssa Abotelli and Payton Chester – who were also in the helicopter. Having three girls who were so young die like this is heartbreaking. Gianna Bryant had the potential to put women’s basketball in the mainstream and have it take its place as equal to the men’s basketball. Just knowing that nine people were forced to look around and realize that they were helpless is heartbreaking. Imagining all the parents on board realizing they couldn’t save their children is such a sad thought. With all the discussion about Bryant and his daughter, it is important to remember and pray for the families of all the people involved. John and Keri Abotelli leave behind multiple children, including a teenager who lost both her parents and her sister Alyssa during one of the most important times in a person’s life. Remember the Mamba Academy basketball coach Christina Mauser, who left behind a husband and family. Remember the pilot Ara Zobayan and remember Sarah Chester, the mother of Payton, who also died in the accident. Just because a celebrity died doesn’t mean that other people should be forgotten.