Clemens: Heroes come and go, but legends are forever; Kobe Bryant’s impact is evermore

The Lakers' Kobe Bryant drives past the Heat's Dwyane Wade in a 97-92 Heat victory on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2005. Bryant passed away in a helicopter crash Sunday. (DAMON HIGGINS/palmbeachpost.com/ TNS)
The Lakers' Kobe Bryant drives past the Heat's Dwyane Wade in a 97-92 Heat victory on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2005. Bryant passed away in a helicopter crash Sunday. (DAMON HIGGINS/palmbeachpost.com/ TNS)

Daric Clemens is a senior journalism news major and is a columnist for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper.

Kobe Bean Bryant, the mamba, the legend and the icon. 

Saturday, I found myself reminiscing about the many memories Kobe Bryant left in his 20 years in the NBA as I watched LeBron James score a layup to propel him past Bryant on the total scoring record list. It reminded me how well-respected Bryant was around the league, as LeBron did it while wearing shoes that had “Mamba 4 Life” written on the side. 

I found myself on Twitter moments after Bryant was moved out of the top three of the all-time scoring list and saw him paying his respects, as he tweeted out toward James, showing his selflessness by how much he wanted others to succeed after him. 

Little did the world know this tweet would be the last thing Bryant would say to the public, as America was left devastated the day after, finding out Bryant, his daughter Gianni Bryant and seven others were killed in a helicopter accident Sunday morning. 

It was a shocking death that left many people in distraught, especially in the basketball world. Bryant was one of the most important figures in basketball, but also sports in general. He was a role model for many people that compete today. 

His impact was evident, as NBA teams Sunday and Monday honored Bryant by committing eight-second violations and 24-second violations to start the games to represent the two numbers he wore while playing in the NBA. 

The Detroit Pistons wore Bryant jerseys before the tip to pay their respects Monday, soccer star Neymar signalized No. 24 after scoring a goal and Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young wore a No. 8 jersey to represent his idol. 

Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond and teammates wear jerseys in memory of Kobe Bryant, who died along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash Sunday, before their NBA game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, on Monday, January 27, 2020. (Mike Mulholland, mmulholl@mlive.com, TNS)

These actions were just a small glimpse of how impactful Bryant was as a person. He was a role model for many people, and the loss of him really hurt. 

His presence went further than the professional level of basketball. I remember when I was in grade school, it was a normal thing to toss a piece of crumpled up paper and yell out, “Kobe!” as you attempted to make it into the trash can. Or when you’re playing a game of pick-up basketball and take a contested jump shot, it was always recognized as a Bryant shot attempt, as you again said, “Kobe!” as it went up.

I could never forget the debates with other basketball fans about who was the best basketball player at the time. Bryant was one player that was never left out. 

In my generation, if you were into basketball growing up, you wanted to be like Bryant —a champion, a leader, someone who has the mentality they can conquer anything that comes between them and their goals. That’s exactly what he set out to be. 

He did things on the basketball court nobody else could do. On a nightly basis, he was going out and dominating the games, and it was intriguing to see how much of a competitor he was every single game night. He poured his heart out every contest, which helped him have a successful career. 

His competitive attitude came into full fruition when he walked back onto the court after he tore his Achilles in a game. His team was down, they needed him and he came through, once again limping his way to the free-throw line, knocking down both in a game where the Lakers ended up winning by two points.

Hartford, CT - 1/27/20 - Kobe Bryant fans attend an exhibition game between Team USA and the UConn women's team at XL Center Monday night. (Photo by Brad Horrigan, bhorrigan@courant.com, TNS)

Bryant always made sure to be the best he possibly could no matter what the circumstances were. It led him to be one of the greatest players to ever lace up for an NBA team. 

The career he built in the NBA was legendary and something that will be remembered forever. However, what also makes Bryant as great as he was is the way he carried himself outside of playing basketball. He touched so many people that were in younger generations, as he wanted to inspire them to do something special with their lives too. 

Something that will always stick with me personally, and likely others, is the “mamba mentality.” It was first described as his drive, will power and lack of fear on the hardwood. 

However, “mamba mentality” was bigger than basketball. “Mamba mentality” was something that resonated with anything a person wanted to do while doing it with the intensity and determination Bryant did himself. He made sure to preach the message of doing what you like to do, and the hard work will pay off. 

He didn’t only work hard on the basketball court, but he also was set on being the best at what he could at everything he did. That’s what he did, as he passed on what he learned in his experience to the next generation. 

He was an inspiration in my life just like many other people because of his determination to never give up. The way he continued to push through adversity in his life as a basketball player and as a human shows the grind is worth it in the end. 

The impact he had on society will be forever lasting even after his tragic death. His legacy will always live on. We need to continue that “mamba mentality,” as that’s what Bryant wanted for other people. Get the best out of yourself every single day, and inspire others.

Kobe Bean Bryant, the mamba, the legend and the icon, you will be missed. 

Contact Daric Clemens with comments at diclemens@bsu.edu or on Twitter @DaricClemens

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