I am not a “sports guy.” Let’s start with that.
I’ll let the experts speak to the statistics and legend that is Kobe Bryant. There are enough outlets who can speak to his game and on-court genius.
What I know this: (1) His death along with the death of his daughter is tragic and devastating. (2) He was an absolute genius; a man so absolutely committed to reaching his full and highest potential…a man who made everyone around him better.
Was he perfect?
Not at all. And neither am I. And neither are you.
So let’s get that out of the way.
What made him so good? The Mamba Mentality.
What is the Mamba Mentality? Kobe defined it himself: “To sum it up, the Mamba Mentality means to constantly try to be the best version of yourself. It’s a constant quest to try to be better today than you were yesterday.”
In essence, the Mamba Mentality is the constant evolution of self towards one fullest and highest potential.
To be making oneself like fine wine. Better with time.
And this is the life Kobe Bryant lived.
Even though I am not a “sports guy,” I remember in 2003 when Kobe was accused of sexual assault and false imprisonment. Everyone said he was DONE.
Yet, many of us watched his final game against the Utah Jazz in April 2016 where, after missing his first five shots, he rounded out the night with 60 points. It was a surreal night. Shot after shot… Kobe hit everything. One fan tweeted: “This is like watching a movie…”
His parting shot made Kobe the oldest player to score over 60 points in one game.
His team won a hard-fought game that night over the Utah Jazz: 101-96.
Earvin “Magic” Johnson tweeted: “Kobe Bryant scoring 60 points in his last game is the great final performance that I’ve ever seen in sports!”
He was counted out.
He came back stronger than ever.
He retired. He was done with basketball.
We have all seen the sports figure – or actor or singer – that cannot leave the game. He – or she – plays past their prime, past their legacy and to the point of embarrassment.
Kobe knew his time was done.
In a later interview, Kobe stated that is was easy for him to walk away because he knew he had left it all on on the court. He gave everything he had to the game.
He brought the Mamba Mentality to business. Professor Lee Igel stated Kobe was “moving from success to significance.” He partnered with Jeff Stibel and others and founded Bryant Stibel, a venture capital firm, bringing his same level of attention to detail to the market as he had brought to the court.
Most of all, he was an amazing father and family man.
Kobe and his daughter, Gianna, tragically passed away together flying to a travel ball game for a team Gianna played on and Kobe coached.
Kobe brought the same level of energy, passion and attention to detail he had for the court and boardroom to the being an amazing Dad to his young daughters.
Kobe should not have died. He had more to accomplish, more mountains to cross, more battles to win.
Yet, at 41, he had achieved what he set out to achieve. He had fully embodied the Mamba Mentality. He had become the highest and best version of himself.
Today, we grieve.
Tomorrow, we rise and embrace the Mamba Mentality.
We, too, seek constant evolution on our own journeys to become the highest and most complete versions of ourselves.
In this way, we honor the extraordinary life of Kobe Bryant.