Kobe Bryant left one of the greatest legacies in NBA history during an incredible 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. After being drafted at the age of 17 in 1996, Bryant went on to become a five-time NBA champion, an 18-time All-Star, a 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, and a two-time Finals MVP.
Bryant also led the NBA in scoring twice, and only Kareem Abdul-Jabber, Karl Malone, and LeBron James managed more regular-season points.
Needless to say, Bryant’s early death leaves a hole that many NBA fans will struggle to fill. However, in recognition of his incredible life and career, here we will take a look at five life lessons that we can all learn from the Black Mamba.
1. Anything can be achieved through hard work.
While Bryant was undoubtedly a gifted athlete, he was never close to being the biggest, strongest, or fastest player in the NBA.
However, Bryant’s work ethic and drive have become the stuff of legend, with countless players from the past and present commenting on how Bryant’s willingness to put in the work helped to separate him from the other great players of his generation.
In high school, Bryant was known for his commitment to being the best, although his dedication took on a whole new level when he entered the NBA. While his first few years in the league didn’t always go as planned, Bryant’s early morning workouts and marathon shooting sessions helped him rise to the pinnacle of the sport.
Teammates and rivals were left in awe as Bryant pushed himself to achieve his goals, and Kobe’s career is undoubtedly a testament to his incredible work ethic.
2: Use setbacks as motivation.
Whether combating an issue on or off the court, Bryant was always able to recover from his setbacks. Most testing was his injury issues towards the end of his career, as he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in 2013 before suffering a fractured knee the following season.
Nevertheless, Bryant was always eager to emphasise that setbacks are part of life, and the most important thing is how you respond to them.
“Hopefully it’ll inspire them to understand that overcoming is part of the deal, part of living. When you are faced with those types of challenges, you have two options: you can shy away from them, do nothing about them, or you can rise to the challenge.”
After his retirement in 2016, Bryant notably offered motivation and encouragement to some of the NBA’s biggest stars following injuries.
Shortly after Gordon Hayward’s devastating injury in 2017, Bryant reached out to the Celtics star and emphasised that his current limitations would soon feel like mini-victories. As predicted, Hayward eventually came back stronger than ever, and Bryant’s thoughts on setbacks can be related to all walks of life.
3: Pass on knowledge to those willing to learn.
Due to his relentless drive, Bryant didn’t always see eye to eye with all his teammates, and he particularly had a shaky relationship with Dwight Howard during their time together in Los Angeles.
However, Bryant was well known for his willingness to offer advice and work with younger players around the league, and he had a huge impact on an increasingly young roster during his final years with the Lakers.
Bryant was also well known for his mentorship role with Anthony Davis, which began at the 2012 Olympics when Davis was a 19-year-old who had yet to make his NBA debut. Bryant’s impact wasn’t just felt in basketball, with Novak Djokovic sharing stories of how the Laker legend impacted his career.
4: Conquer fear.
As one of the world’s most prominent sporting figures playing for the NBA’s most iconic team, Bryant faced pressure like few others before him, although he refused to back down from his challenges.
“The more you ignore fear, the more it controls you. I’ve found that the most important thing to do with fear is to just look at it.” Kobe Bryant.
On the court, Bryant never feared missing shots or making mistakes despite the prospect of intense scrutiny and criticism, while off the court, he also jumped into the second career act despite some telling him that he couldn’t conquer Hollywood.
Thanks to his iconic ‘no-flinch’ moment back in 2010, some of Bryant’s most loyal fans have stated that he was simply born without fear; however, in reality, Bryant felt fear just like all of us, although he managed to confront it head-on to come out on top.
5: Follow your passion in life.
Bryant was born with a love for basketball, thanks to his father’s success in the NBA. Watching Bryant’s Oscar-winning short ‘Dear Basketball’ provides a perfect insight into his love of the game as a child, and Bryant famously slept with a basketball every night as he chased his dream of going professional.
While less passionate individuals have also carved out careers in the NBA, Bryant demonstrated that passion can elevate you even further, and the Laker legend viewed his countless hours in the gym as simply part of the process rather than ‘work’.
When his love for basketball finally faded, Bryant opted to walk away in order to follow his next passion, and Kobe’s life serves as a reminder to follow your dreams and give them everything you have to make them a reality.