Black Mamba Remembered in Public Memorial

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More than 20,000 mourners gathered February 24th to honor the memory of basketball icon Kobe Bryant and his 13 year old daughter Gianna “GiGi” Bryant who died in a helicopter crash on January 26th along with 7 other passengers.  Vanessa Bryant’s emotional tribute to her husband and daughter brought tears to the eyes of the celebrities and fans in attendance.

Kobe Bryant had an universal impact on society and many students and staff at Bethel were saddened by his sudden death. Sophomore Kiairra Avent  expressed grief over her favorite basketball player who she said inspired her and others.  “I honestly tear up every time someone mentions his death and his daughter.” Craig Brehon, the dean of boy’s discipline who also coaches the varsity basketball team shared that one of his players Marcus Banks asked to change his jersey number to 24 in honor of Kobe Bryant for a game following his death. 

Bryant joined the Los Angeles Lakers franchise directly from high school and remained on the team for the length of his basketball career. Throughout his  20 years with the Lakers, Bryant won five NBA championships, was recognized as most valuable player and played on a number of all star teams.  Die hard fans of Bryant believe that the NBA will be greatly affected by Bryant’s death and change the world of professional basketball forever.  “The world has ended and basketball is dead,” said junior Aaron Smith. 

The circumstances of the helicopter crash continues to undergo investigation, but shortly after the memorial service it was announced that Vanessa Bryant filed a wrongful death suit against the company that operated Bryant’s flight. According to the Los Angeles Times, the complaint accuses the pilot for “failing to abort the flight, failing to monitor and assess the weather, and failure to keep a safe distance between natural obstacles and the helicopter,” and alleges that the company is responsible for the pilot’s negligence.   “The pilot knew he shouldn’t have flown lower and all the other helicopters were grounded, ” said school security guard Officer Barnes. “If it wasn’t safe for the other helicopters to fly, why was Kobe’s helicopter able to fly?”  The pilot Ara Zobayan also died during the crash and recent news reports indicate that in 2015 Zobayan was charged with violating weather conditions while flying a helicopter.

Although many continue to mourn the loss of Bryant and his significant contribution to the world of sports, his death has caused others to look further into his life.  “After the incident I started digging into his past,” media specialist Charity Lindsey admitted. That past included the controversial charges of sexual assault Bryant faced in 2003. However, charges were dropped because the accuser refused to testify and Bryant issued a public apology. 

Bryant nicknamed himself Black Mamba after the allegations to separate his personal life from his basketball career. The moniker went on to become a personal brand that formed the Mamba Academy, partnership with Nike and his 2018 book ” The Mamba Mentality: How I Play.”