My heart hurts, I don’t want to write these words. I still don’t want to accept what happened Sunday. It feels so surreal. For myself and millions of others all across the globe it feels like… honestly I can’t even describe what this feels like.

The easiest way to describe it, the world lost a superhero. It feels like Superman just fell.

Kobe was just different. I don’t have to talk about his basketball accolades that goes without saying. We all know about his championships, All-Star appearances an MVP awards. I want to take this time to try and explain how big of an impact this man had on not just me, but people all across the globe.

I remember a few years ago being at the park with my friends. We were watching some kids play basketball and one of the kids pulled up and shot a three. As he shoots he yells “STEPH” as the ball leaves his hands (in reference to Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors).

I remember my friends and I looking at each other with shock and disbelief. We could not believe that this little boy said Steph and not Kobe. It was a shock to the system. I remember yelling back “NAH! Steph is nice, but you ALWAYS say Kobe.”

Even though we were over 20 years old we still looked at Kobe as a superhero. He still held that same place in our hearts.

People’s love and admiration for Kobe is a hard thing to quantify or explain. I think the love for him comes from his work ethic and his mantra; Mamba Mentality. Kobe inspired people to do the best they could at all times. Not just in sports, but in everything they did.

Mamba mentality means to do whatever you can to be the best at your craft regardless of what it is. He asked people what are you doing to better yourself? He asked us are you doing everything you can to be the best version of yourself? It is that unbreakable drive and determination that set him apart from everyone else.

We aren’t all born with otherworldly talents. We can’t all soar through the air like Michael Jordan or LeBron James. But Kobe showed us we didn’t have to be born with natural talent to be great. Yes he was a tremendously gifted athlete, that goes without saying.

Kobe more so than any other athlete, showed us the work that needed to be put in to truly be great. He showed us that if we worked at whatever it is we are passionate about, we could all achieve true greatness.

We watched Kobe go from being an 18-year-old rookie shooting air balls in the NBA playoffs to becoming league MVP. We watched him tear his achilles then comeback and hit two free throws. We watched him win the NBA Finals and Finals MVP with a broken finger. For 20 years we watched him push himself as far as he could to be the best at his craft.

Even after he hung up his sneakers and said goodbye to the NBA, he still drove himself to do more. He was truly never satisfied.

Leaving behind a career like Kobe’s is not easy. But he refused to let his NBA career define the next stage of his life. He wanted to add more to his legacy.

He became an author, coach, publisher, writer, and producer. He even won an Oscar. Ask Leonardo DiCaprio how hard it is to win an Oscar. Kobe did it in his second year of retirement from the NBA.

Not only did he win an Oscar for his short film Dear Basketball, he did it with John Williams, THE John Willams. You know the same John Williams who composed the music for the films Jaws, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, E.T. and Indiana Jones. Kobe won an Oscar with that guy.

Kobe looked poised to leave just as big if not bigger a legacy off the court as he did on it. He spent two decades in the NBA but it seemed like his story was just beginning. That’s what makes his passing hurt that much more. You could see the joy and elation Kobe had for this next chapter of his life.

You saw his passion for writing and story telling. You could see the pure joy he felt watching his daughters grow. You saw how he relished passing on the knowledge of the game he loved to the next generation. There are probably more pictures of Kobe smiling from the past four years than there were in the past 20. To see all that joy and happiness leave in an instant is gut wrenching.

Kobe Bean Bryant was no saint. He was far from perfect. Just like the rest of us, he too had his downfalls. The 2003 sexual assault case against him will be apart of his legacy forever just as his five championships will.

While there was never a criminal conviction in that case there was a civil settlement. Afterwards, Kobe maintained his innocence. He spoke to the public and gave an apology. I know to many that apology means nothing and some people will forever think badly of him for what may or may not have happened in Colorado that night, and that is okay. Even in the aftermath of this I saw a man try to be better. I saw Kobe change how he approached, treated and spoke about women.

He became one of the biggest public advocates for women not just in sports, but in all facets that I can think of. Again I know for many that won’t change how they feel about him but that is the Kobe Bryant I choose to remember. A man constantly trying to better himself in all aspects of life.

A man adored by millions left the world in a blink of an eye. While we pay our respects to one of the biggest global icons, we must also remember the others lost in this terrible tragedy.

To the friends and family of John, Keri & Alyssa Altobelli; We love you and we’re here for you.

To the friends and family of Sarah & Payton Chester; We love you and we’re here for you.

To the friends and family of Christina Mauser; We love you and we’re here for you.

To the friends and family of Ara Zobayan; We love you and we’re here for you.

To the friends and family of Kobe & Gianna Bryant; We love you and we’re here for you.

The Black Mamba is a legend and will be remembered forever. People all across the globe will tell stories about him for years to come. We’re gonna be shooting paper balls into trash cans shouting “KOBE” for decades.

I can’t thank you enough Kobe for all the countless memories you have given not only me but millions of others all across the globe. You showed us that we should never stop trying to better ourselves in every way we can.

I promise to do my best to honor you the only way I know how. By trying everyday to be better and staying true to that Mamba Mentality now and FOREVER!

Rest in Paradise.

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