In his final NBA game against the Utah Jazz, Kobe Bryant went out with a 60-point streak for the win, ending his 20-year career as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. On Sunday the 41-year-old multi-ring-bearing NBA Champion, two years into his retirement was in a helicopter crash, that ended his life, the life of his daughter and the lives of seven others also on board.
The response to Kobe’s passing swept the world. A global outpouring of mourners came to the Staple Center in LA, as well as his alma mater high school in Philadelphia. Past presidents tweeted their admiration, as well as athletes from across the world of sports. In the NBA, certain teams paid homage by taking 8 and 24-second violations (8 and 24 being the numbers Kobe wore when he played). There was even a tribute paid to Kobe at the Grammys, as host Alicia Keys sang a song in his honor at the top of the program.
Many don’t know that Kobe was a mental health advocate. He spoke on how mental health should not be ignored, and advocated for athletes to get the support they need. Kobe spoke with the youth at WE RISE, about his struggles in the NBA and his personal mental health journey. WE RISE is built around mental health awareness in sports through presentations on personal narratives. Kobe surprised the group of WE RISE high schoolers when he gave a talk in Downtown LA. As someone with his own personal struggles to go along with his athletic achievements, Kobe was able to use his story to inspire youth to prioritize their own mental health, to overcome fear and shame, and to be the best self they could possibly be.
Aside from being a world-class athlete and a mental health advocate, Kobe was also a filmmaker. In 2017, he released a short animated film based on a letter he had written to commemorate his retirement from basketball. The short went on to win an Oscar. Kobe had much more to give the world and was just getting started in his post-basketball life.
“Dear Basketball” Oscar-winning short film.