Vanessa Bryant says she'll never understand the tragedy that took Kobe and Gianna's lives, and often struggles to face reality, but Mamba Mentality lives on forever, she said in a series of posts.
On Sunday, January 26, 2020, a Sikorsky S-76B helicopter crashed in the city of Calabasas, California, around 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Kobe and Gianna, along with seven others passengers, died in the crash.
"Grief is a messed up cluster of emotions," said Vanessa on Instagram, "One day you're in the moment laughing and the next day you don't feel like being alive. I want to say this for people struggling with grief and heartbreaking loss. Find your reason to live. I look at my daughters and I try to push through for them. Death is guaranteed but living the rest of the day isn't. Find your reason." On Monday, Vanessa shared a letter she received from one of Gianna's best friends, telling her stories of Gianna's vibrant personality.
Born in Philadelphia and raised in Italy, Bryant went to Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania and was one of the top NBA draft picks. His father was a former NBA player, Joe Bryant. Kobe declared for the 1996 NBA draft after graduation, he was selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the 13th overall pick, and the Hornets then traded him to the Lakers. The rest is history.
Kobe went on to win five NBA championships across a legendary 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, appeared in 18 All-Star games, and won three Olympic gold metals (2008 Beijing and 2012 London). Kobe is often compared to Michael Jordan as the best to ever play the game of basketball.
Kobe met his wife, Vanessa, during a music video shoot in 1999 while she was still in high school and he was just 20 years old. They got engaged when she turned 18, and they got married in April 2001. Kobe shared an picture when they first met on his Instagram on April 18, 2013. Kobe had a love for girls basketball, too, as he mentored players on numerous AAU teams and high schools.
Coaches and players around the league praised Kobe for his Mamba Mentality, a fierce and competitive work ethic and obsession. Bryant got the idea for his alter ego after watching Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" and doing some research on the deadly snake. Bryant said he wanted to cast himself as an assassin who didn't care whether or not he was loved or hated. His mentality is about prioritizing personal and professional goals over having an easy and comfortable life. It's about playing without fear and mastering your craft. Bryant built his 20-year career around a culture of winning and purposeful intensity.
Bryant had a small connection to the crypto world in November 2018 when he attended an event hosted by Justin Sun and the Tron Foundation. He spoke at the two-day NiTRON event, Tron's platform-specific conference, and shared his knowledge and business experience. Unfortunately, Sun was criticized for using Kobe's eventual death to market the NiTRON event the following year.
Dovey Wan, a partner at crypto investment firm Primitive Ventures, said Sun's actions were disgraceful and called him "a total psychopath." Regardless, Kobe appeared to be an advocate for blockchains.