Justin Whitner | Staff Writer
The day Kobe Bryant died – Jan. 26 – is widely regarded now as one of the saddest days in sports history. His death touched people all over the world. From fans, players and friends, millions of people gave tributes, said words or posted pictures of or with the former Los Angeles Lakers superstar.
When Hampton University student Ny’Ombi Harrison heard the news, she figured it was just some fake talk that people were posting about on Twitter.
“My 10-year-old brother called me and was almost in tears asking, ‘Is it true?’” Harrison said. “I had to reassure him that it was just rumors at the moment. I quickly realized just how much Kobe Bryant meant to every little black boy around the world. He was their Superman. Once it was confirmed, I was in shock and disbelief. The news was very heartbreaking and unsettling.”
Bryant was not only just a great basketball player; he had a mindset that was
parallel to none.
Although Bryant took a lot of heat for the way he played basketball and his mannerisms of always being locked in and focused, on and off the floor, after retiring from the NBA in 2016, his persona changed. Bryant won an Oscar for his “Dear Basketball” short film, he became more active in coaching his daughter Gianna’s basketball team and spent extra time with the family that he didn’t have when he was playing.
“I myself was not a big fan, but almost every basketball fan I knew was, especially my dad,” Harrison said. “Kobe was a stand-up guy, on and off the court, and I have nothing but respect for him. I feel his death reminded me that life is too short, and it really made me think about my purpose in life and how I want to leave my legacy here on earth.”
During the 100-days-until-graduation celebration, HU senior Brian White could be seen wearing a Bryant shirt with 8 on the front and 24 on the back – Kobe’s two uniform numbers with the Lakers.
“It was phenomenal,” White said, speaking of the tribute before the Lakers-Portland Trail Blazers game Friday. “I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.”
During the tribute, Lakers star LeBron James had a paper with some words already prepared to speak about Bryant, but he ended up tossing it and speaking from the heart.
He closed his words by going back to Bryant’s retirement speech.
“In the words of Kobe Bryant, ‘Mamba Out,’” James said. “But in the words of us, ‘Not Forgotten.’”
James promised that he and the Lakers would carry on Bryant’s legacy on his back in his tribute post on Instagram as well.
Bryant was not only just a great basketball player; he had a mindset that was parallel to none. Playing through tons of injuries – ankle, knee, finger and so forth – he never backed down. Kobe promised to play when he had the opportunity and hated taking nights off. He changed the game of basketball for eternity by showing passion for the game from start to finish, no matter the matchup at hand.
Bryant was known for his scoring abilities and clutch gene on the basketball court, but he passed away as someone he had become off the court: A #GirlDad.