Kobe Bryant possessed an incredible work ethic and competitive drive, said Overlake School’s boys basketball coach David Bigelow.
“He transcended basketball and was just getting started in an incredible post-basketball career. For youth players around the world, he was an incredible example of how to compete on the court and beyond,” the Owl coach added on Jan. 26.
Earlier that day, the basketball legend and eight others perished in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, according to ESPN. The 20-year Los Angeles Lakers player’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, also was killed in the crash.
Bryant, 41, was a 6-foot-6 shooting guard whose accomplishment list is unending, including winning five NBA championships, four All-Star MVP awards and two gold medals with the U.S. national team at the Summer Olympics. No. 24 retired after the 2015-16 season because of the physical demands of the game.
Lake Washington girls basketball coach Jeff Wilson said the loss of Bryant hits hard.
“Kobe had been such an ambassador and supporter of women’s basketball that it’s crushing to think about what strides his daughter and him would have made for the sport over the next 30 years,” he said.
On Jan. 11, Bryant and Gianna attended a game in Cashmere, Washington, to witness Louisville commit Hailey Van Lith score 35 points in the Bulldogs’ 63-27 victory over Medical Lake, according to BET.
Like Bigelow, Inglemoor boys basketball coach Greg Lowell was inspired by Bryant’s competitive fire and work ethic to improve his game in every way.
Echoing Bigelow and Lowell’s sentiments, Lake Washington boys coach Ryan Staudacher added that he admired those aspects of Bryant’s game as both a player and coach at LW and later as a player at the University of Montana.
“Gut-wrenching news today that has so many of us in disbelief. When I think about how Kobe has impacted my perspective on the game of basketball — nothing compares to the way he competed,” Staudacher said. “Despite being the most talented player in the world, his hunger to compete and improve never slowed. His passion for the game and his pursuit to be the best are things that I think can be emulated not only in the game of basketball but in all aspects of life.”
Bryant kept basketball by his side as a successful author of “The Mamba Mentality: How I Play” and filmmaker by winning the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for “Dear Basketball” in 2018.
Bryant’s last tweet on Jan. 25 praised LeBron James for passing him on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with his 33,644th point.
“Much respect my brother,” Bryant tweeted.