Where do you start when trying to describe the legacy and impact of Kobe Bryant?
The accolades Kobe achieved throughout his basketball career undoubtedly etched him as one of the best NBA players to ever take the floor.
Five NBA titles, 15 All-Star appearances, four All-Star Game MVP awards, two NBA Finals MVP Awards, one regular-season MVP award and an icon that many around the world idolized and tried to emulate in their own lives and basketball journeys.
But perhaps the biggest — and most important — part of his legacy was his impact as a husband, father, brother, son, friend and so much more.
Kobe was not only one of the best players to ever play professional basketball, but he was a husband to his wife, Vanessa, and a father to four daughters: Gianna, Natalia, Bianka and Capri. He was a son to Joe and Pam. He was a brother to Sharia and Shaya. He was a friend and an idol to many, many more around the globe.
He was just 41 years old.
A life, alongside eight others, cut way too short in a tragic helicopter crash on Sunday in Calabasas, Calif.
One common interest and passion that Kobe shared with many around the world, as well as his family and most notably is 13-year-old daughter Gianna (also known as Gigi), who also tragically passed away far too soon in the helicopter crash, was a great love for the game of basketball.
When it came to Kobe and Gigi, they both held a strong interest and were both advocates for the WNBA and women’s basketball in general.
Throughout his playing career and even more so after he was done taking the hardwood for the Lakers, Kobe was often a champion and strong advocate of women’s basketball, especially the WNBA and women’s college basketball.
“There’s no better way to learn than to watch the pros do it,” Kobe said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 2019. “The WNBA is a beautiful game to watch.”
Kobe spoke about the WNBA and women’s basketball in a positive light consistently, showing endless support of women’s basketball in a way that no other NBA player really has before while helping the game continue to grow and gain exposure among the sports world.
Kobe and Gigi attended numerous WNBA and women’s basketball games, sitting courtside and further experiencing that shared passion for the game of basketball while a father taught his teenage daughter the ins and outs of a game he loves and poured his blood, sweat and tears into for over half his life.
Kobe and Gigi shared a unique connection when it came to basketball, with both of them eyeing the teenager to play college basketball and in the WNBA while attempting to carry on her dad’s legacy on the court. That connection continued all the way up until the tragic accident took place on Sunday, while the two were on their way with seven others to attend a basketball camp that Gigi was set to play in.
Along with having a unique connection with the WNBA, specifically, Kobe also had a connection with the Minnesota Lynx and many Lynx players. The Mamba was able to meet and become familiar with numerous Minnesota players both while in his playing career and after through USA Basketball and other avenues within the game. He always had his eye on the women’s game and showed his appreciation for it often.
Gigi, who held a strong connection to both the UConn and Oregon women’s college basketball programs, was even able to meet former Huskies standout and current Lynx forward Napheesa Collier, with the two taking a picture together in September 2019 that Kobe proudly posted on Instagram.
Yes, Kobe had a strong impact on the NBA and the game of basketball in general, but he also played a large role in trying to leave a lasting impact on women’s basketball and the WNBA as well.
His legacy will also contain the fact that he had a profound impact both in his families lives and within the WNBA and women’s basketball worlds to help the game evolve. He wanted to help the game of women’s basketball continue to grow and get exposure by giving back and being involved. And he worked endlessly to try and give his daughters — especially Gigi — the chance to pursue their dreams in being a part of that.
To me, among all the other incredible and game-changing moments we saw from Kobe throughout his career and life, that is something that far outweighs the legacy and accolades that No. 8 and No. 24 was able to accomplish on the basketball court.