On the tragic Sunday morning of Jan. 26, Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna along with seven others passed away in a fatal helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. Bryant was widely regarded as one of the best and most influential NBA players ever. Bryant was the longest tenured Los Angeles Laker and had an iconic career, racking up five championships, 15 all-star appearances, and an MVP award amongst many other accolades.
Many celebrities paid tribute to Bryant and the others lost, including former president Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As people mourn throughout the world, they remembered Bryant with huge murals, large collections of flowers and jerseys, and countless social media posts.
Many students and teachers at Venice were influenced by Bryant’s extreme work ethic and his graceful skill on the basketball court. Christopher Wright, an art teacher at Venice High School, gave his thoughts on Bryant’s tragic passing:
“He’s a great man, it’s very saddening to see him go. I’m not a basketball fan, but I’ve watched those championships he won, and he was just an amazing player. He was like an artist on the court, as far as I’m concerned, and it’s just a tragedy to see someone like him go so needlessly. It was very shocking.”
Mr. Wright also plans to make an art piece to honor Bryant’s legacy in the NBA and as a person off the court.
“I want to do a big banner to honor him,” Mr. Wright said. “I’m not sure as to exactly where I want to put it, maybe the new art building, but I want to make it portable.”
Many other Venice students weighed in on Bryant and his affect on their lives. Varsity Basketball captain Ja’sean Johnson said the death will have a huge impact on the basketball community.
“Kobe was the person that inspired me to play basketball,” Johnson said. “I wore his number on the first basketball team I ever played for. His mentality on the court encouraged me to get better at the sport I love.”
His impact went beyond basketball.
“His death affected more than the basketball community,” Johnson said. “Kobe was not only a basketball icon, he was a great father to his daughter Gigi, who also played basketball. He was a person who showed us that he was more than just a basketball player. He was a legend.”