In 2016, the Los Angeles City Council dubbed August 24th Kobe Bryant Day to commemorate the two jersey numbers he wore during his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Today, 8.24, nearly seven months since the heartbreaking loss of Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other friends, we honor and remember the basketball great, Kobe Bryant. Father, Husband, Brother, Teammate, Coach, Champion, Author, Philanthropist, Hero and Legend.
Bryant’s impact was global. He inspired so many people to pursue their dreams and to never give up on or off the court. A father of four, Bryant took pride in being a “girl dad”. He was a huge advocate for women sports. His dedication and desire to instill greatness in as many people as possible continues on through all the lives he touched.
As we honor Kobe Bryant on this day, we celebrate his legacy, commitment and contribution to women’s sports.
Arike Ogunbowale on Bryant: “For somebody that you look up to to give you advice about your game and tell you things that they see – a lot of people don’t get that chance”. “It’s very special that I was able to have those encounters.” The influence of Bryant is apparent in Ogunbowale’s game. At her best on the court, she is one of the most explosive and exciting players in the WNBA, with the ability to score from anywhere, against anyone.
Naomi Osaka knows when she gets back on the court after a loss, she’s taking that opportunity to be empowered by her optimism. She adopted the Mamba Mentality to face the challenging year in sports. Optimism isn’t a passive trait for athletes like her, who’ve learned the Mamba Mentality from Kobe himself. She says “You have to love challenging yourself. You’re not going to win every game you play in life. It’s the games that you lose and the things that you learn from, and your willingness to train really hard and go out there and just fight.
Sydney Leroux credits Bryant’s impact in her life for teaching her to never soften for anybody, teaching her about the darkness and the light and the villains becoming the heroes. Kobe’s self-reflection was such an essential part of his legacy, as a player and as a person. Sydney breaks it down, “I think that’s how he lived his life. He loved his family, and I love my family, so… I think he just taught me to be better than I was yesterday and continue to work on your craft and love your family.”
Sabrina Ionescu reflects on how Kobe always saw the bigger picture. “That was clear with everything he did in his life — but to me it was especially clear with the way that he looked at and treated the game of women’s basketball. He didn’t see growing the game with girls as his hobby, or as some side project, or as a charity case. He saw it as a movement. And he didn’t get involved because he just wanted to be a fan of our movement. He got involved because he wanted to be a part of it. “And that’s what I always loved so much about Kobe, and it’s one of the things that I hope people will remember about him. He didn’t care about your age, or your gender, or your background….. or any of that. Even your talent, at the end of the day, wasn’t what Kobe was there to judge. All that he cared about really was your love of the game.
Serena Williams worked together with Kobe on his book “Legacy and the Queen,” which tells a story of an amateur tennis player in the magical kingdom of Nova hoping to win a tennis tournament. The book revolves around a tale of inspiration, inner magic and self-improvement. During this time they talked about technique, practice, and the emotional struggles of being a young athlete. Kobe wanted “Legacy and the Queen” to be a great example for his daughters, for all the young women out there, to inspire a generation. The two had mutual respect for each other, Bryant even calling Williams the GOAT: Greatest of All Time.
Diana Taurasi was inspired by Bryant to become a three-time WNBA champion, two-time Finals MVP and one-time regular season MVP in 2009. Things had also started to come full circle with Gianna who wanted to follow in her footsteps and go on to play basketball for the University of Connecticut, where Taurasi led the Huskies to three-straight NCAA championships from 2002-2004. The woman who looked up to Kobe was now a role model to his daughter and infamously nicknamed “The White Mamba” by Bryant himself.
Help us highlight how Kobe supported women’s sports by painting the timeline purple with this image along with the hashtag #MambaWomen
Kobe Bryant’s legacy will always include championing and supporting female empowerment in sports. To the kid from Philly, who taught us to be better, your legacy lives on. Today and forever, we continue the endless pursuit of better and thank you for your contributions to women’s sports.