Death of Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna shocks WHS

Abby Jarecki

The revered Kobe Bryant, retired LA Lakers basketball player and creator of “Mamba Mentality” died this past Sunday in a helicopter crash. Also killed, along with seven other people, was his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. The news devastated the public and filled social media feeds, as both basketball fans and casual basketball viewers grieved the loss. 

Both Bryant and Gianna had an immeasurable influence on the world of basketball. Bryant recently retired from his 20-year career with the Lakers in 2016, where he led the team to 5 NBA titles with an unstoppable drive to win. He supported his other three daughters immensely (Bryant called himself a ‘girl dad’, which sparked the trending #girldad on Twitter) and stood by Gianna, who was on track to play with the UConn women’s basketball team and even in the WNBA.

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Bryant proved to be a sports icon ever since his out-of-high-school NBA debut in 1996. He was “the basketball star” for Gen Xers and Millennials to watch, as he dominated the court from the 2000’s to the 2010’s. 

WHS History Teacher Enrico Basso said he watched Bryant at the time when he was starting to become interested in sports, about age 11 or 12, and he was able to follow Kobe through the rest of his career and through his retirement. 

So when Basso received the news that Bryant died via text message from his friend, he was shocked. “It started piling up on Twitter and it was kind of surreal,” said Basso, “Even today, it’s still kind of like ‘wow.’” 

For the Gen Z students at WHS, the shock wave reverberated. 

“I found out from my dad. He got some kind of notification saying ‘Sources say Kobe Bryant dies in a helicopter crash.’ I was lost for words,” said Junior Jenna Goldberg.

Jenna added that her dad, a long-time Lakers fan, was “absolutely distraught,” as he “loved what Kobe stood for and how he played.”

Bryant is not only remembered as a basketball player, but as a father as well. He coached Gianna’s basketball team, making it clear that he was “a father first,” and had a special bond with each of his daughters and his wife. Senior Pat Mullen said, “I just feel really bad for the Bryant family as a whole.” 

The fact that Gianna died alongside Bryant only adds to the tragedy. “I don’t follow basketball, but it definitely hurt knowing that she was only 13 and that they all lost their lives at once,” said WHS senior Amanda Ludwig.

The day after his death, some students wore their Bryant jerseys to school to honor his legacy. Some even crumpled up their papers and made jump shots into the garbage can yelling “Kobe!” to recreate his iconic jump shot. 

Now, each time a Gen Z member crumples their old worksheet to shoot into the garbage, it will come with a moment of reflection on who Bryant was and what he meant to them. “It’s not ‘Kobe!’ anymore,” explained WHS junior Sam Kim, “it’s ‘for Kobe.’”