Kobe Bryant was many things, a 5time NBA champion, a two-time Olympic champion, an MVP and an Oscar winner. Probably more significant than all of those Kobe was a good father. At the time of his death, he was on his way to coach his daughter’s basketball team. On the court, Kobe was a cold-blooded killer, which lead to his nickname, the Black Mamba. The Black Mamba is a snake that attacks without warning and that is exactly the way Kobe operated on the court. Off the court, he made his family’s life better and those around him as well.

Rather than me telling you all bout Kobe Bryant and what he meant to the world I would rather tell you all that he meant to me

I am South African so growing up it was difficult to see American sports. Only through movies and highlights was I able to see sports like the NBA, NFL and MLB. My first experience in American sport was watching the Boston Red Sox when our local broadcaster started showing games but it was not until watching Kobe that I was hooked. I only got the back end of Kobe’s career but the way he played the game was close to an art form. The self-belief and never say die attitude was evident for all to see and on those special nights when Kobe was on, damn was he on! He could ignite the whole arena but what he could not know is how far his reach was. As a teenager, he was inspiring and igniting a passion for basketball in South Africa.

Even after his career, Kobe managed to inspire me once more. You see I was never supposed to be a writer but seeing him winning that Oscar showed me once again that anything is possible if you work hard and never give up.

Kobe will be remembered for both his basketball achievements and his achievements away from basketball by most people around the world but for me, I will remember how he has inspired me to be better. A better writer, father and a better man. Sports heroes come and go in one’s lifetime but then there are the legends, the ones who span generations, the ones who will be talked about until the end of time, the truly great people. These people leave legacies far beyond the sport they played, they leave a blueprint of how all people should aspire to be.

Unfortunately, Kobe was not always this man off the court. In 2003, he was charged with sexually assaulting a 19-year-old. While he initially denied the charges, he did admit he did not explicitly ask consent. After his defence team intimidated and smeared the young girl’s reputation, she decided not to testify. Kobe avoided criminal charges. He did, however, reach a settlement with her in civil court for an undisclosed amount. Proving not everyone is perfect, we all have a dark side to us, whether we choose to act on it or not is the difference. Kobe did become a changed man after this incident and has since been an exemplary human. It takes a certain type of man to admit to his faults and ask for forgiveness. I hope he found peace with this before he passed.

Rest in Peace Kobe. Gone but never forgotten!