A World without Kobe: One Year Later

Story posted January 26, 2021 in CommRadio, Sports by Matthew McLaughlin

At 9:45 a.m. PST on Jan. 26, 2020, the entire world stopped.

The tragic death of Kobe Bryant, one of the most beloved athletes to ever participate in professional sports, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, and six family friends marked a psychological shift in the world that would set the tone of 2020.

The Black Mamba’s legend goes well beyond the five championships, two Olympic gold medals, 18 All-Star Game appearances, Emmy award and many more accolades.

The 6-foot-6-inch guard from Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, captivated the NBA world, grew into a cultural icon and became an inspiration to generations of people—and not just athletes or artists. The “Mamba Mentality” became a mindset, not just a cliché, which made the news of his death all the more heartbreaking.

A year later, the loss of a beloved husband, father and mentor to some of the best athletes in the world still rings throughout sports and entertainment. Throughout their championship run last season, the Los Angeles Lakers utilized the motto “Leave A Legacy” to signify the importance of leaving an impact beyond basketball.

But the tributes and kind words did not stop there. Going into Super Bowl 54, former NFL wide receiver Randy Moss emotionally described Braynt’s impact on Sunday NFL Countdown: “He put a stamp on this world, not just in basketball, but just as a whole.”

Later, in February 2020, the Lakers held a ceremony to celebrate the lives of Kobe and GiGi, which featured a heavy speech from Michael Jordan. The former NBA legend and mentor to Bryant opened up about his death. “When Kobe died, a piece of me died,” Jordan said.

Artists across the globe created 437 murals, according to KobeMural.com, which are scattered over 30+ countries, to pay tribute to the Lakers legend and his daughter.

This past December, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson honored Bryant’s iconic jersey No. 8 ahead of a pivotal game against the Los Angeles Rams, which ended with the Seahawks clinching the division title.

At the end of the day, no tribute, video package or social post will fully encompass the legacy and impact of one of the greatest basketball players ever to grace the court. The name “Kobe Bryant” is etched into the record books of basketball forever.

Although the loss of a basketball god sent shockwaves through the world, in the words of Bryant himself, “Everything negative—pressure, challenges—is all an opportunity for me to rise.” So let’s not cry that a basketball hero is gone but instead celebrate the greatness we witnessed and the moments he provided.

There will never be another Black Mamba. There will never be another a No. 8 or a No. 24 in the purple and gold. There will never be another Bean. There will never be another Kobe Bryant.

All we can do? Just. Be. Better.

Thank you, Kobe. Mamba Forever.


Matthew McLaughlin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email mem6936@psu.edu.