One Year Later: The Legacy Kobe Bryant Left Behind

Michael Bilodeau, Writer

Jan. 26th marked one year since the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others in a helicopter crash.  As the sports world remembers Kobe one year after his passing, Downey High students also remember the life and legacy of the Lakers legend, and the impact he had on those who grew up watching him dominate the league.


“I remember watching Kobe and just being mesmerized by his play,” Jacob de la Garza, 11, said.  “He inspired me to become interested in basketball.”


Kobe’s greatness on the court is not matched by many, as he won five championships for the Lakers and broke numerous NBA records in his lengthy career of twenty seasons.  His play inspired millions of fans around the world and his reach as a professional athlete was unparalleled.  During his lifetime, Kobe became a worldwide icon. 


“I just remember Kobe being so important to people not only just in the Los Angeles area or in the United States but also throughout the world,” said Ivan Cuevas, 12.  “I think his legacy is really described by the impact he made on people who were basketball fans anywhere in the world.”


The losses of his young daughter and seven others, including some of her basketball teammates and coaches were devastating. Kobe and his daughter left behind a young family, and were both just getting started in their lives. Kobe, who retired from basketball in 2016, had recently won an Oscar for his basketball documentary, titled Dear Basketball, and was about to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame months later.  Gianna was also a talented basketball player, who inspired those who watched her grow her skills as a player.


“I vividly remember being in disbelief the day Kobe passed away, said Henry Gomez, 12.  “Just the entire day and in the weeks after, it almost felt like losing someone who I knew in a way.”


The day that Kobe passed will be remembered by many as a day of shock.  The idea that someone of his kind of “basketball immortality” could lose their life in such a tragic way felt unbelievable.  However, Kobe lives on through the legacy that he left behind and the millions of people who he inspired by his play.  He has been, and will continue to be deeply missed and never forgotten.