The world lost a great figure when Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash with his daughter and several others. While he may have been a polarizing figure, with people either loving or hating him, he was a legend. Kobe transcended the game of basketball and became a figure to so many people.
From growing up watching basketball in Los Angeles, I always loved the Lakers and always admired Kobe for his work ethic. Kobe grew up in the NBA with the world watching him and he always had an intense level of competitiveness and unparalleled work ethic. Being drafted at age 17, he was very young and immature when he started his professional basketball career. As he grew older and became more comfortable with himself and his basketball status, he matured, which translated off the court as well.
Whether people hated or loved him, Kobe Bryant was a legend and there is a lot we can learn from him. He was one of the top basketball players of all time and someone who’s mastery exceeded past basketball.
People can change
Watching Kobe growing up taught me that people can mature and change. After sexual assault allegations were made against him, he became the target of a lot of hatred. People started judging him and condemning him and the way he acted in response was immature. This immaturity also translated to the basketball court where a lot of people hated him because they thought he was arrogant.
It wasn’t until later that Kobe’s arrogance shifted into confidence. Maybe he no longer felt the need to prove himself or maybe he matured with age, or maybe a little bit of both. He still maintained the same killer instinct, but there was less of a need to prove himself because he had already proven himself in his mind. It was this confidence that suddenly became respected, instead of hated. Over time he went from being booed and attacked through social media to being highly respected, which I believe was a reflection of how he was carrying himself and the respect he had for himself on and off the court.
This evolution of Kobe showed me that people can grow and mature no matter what they’re going through. No matter how you’ve been perceived up until a certain point, you can adjust, and as you shift internally, the external world is going to shift around you and people are going to treat you differently. And it’s never too late to grow. It’s also never too late to learn something new.
Mastery is a skill
Kobe Bryant was a master of many aspects in life and he taught me that mastery is a skill. Kobe didn’t just hold himself to the highest standards on the basketball court, but he also practiced this skill in everything he did. Winning an Oscar for an inspirational short film he made after retiring from the NBA, Kobe showed mastery in the film world.
Mastery is about how you learn and how you do things, and once you understand this, you can apply this to different areas. Kobe approached life and filmmaking the same way he approached basketball, with excellence and with the desire to be the best.
If you’re great at something, you can analyze the way you became great and apply that work ethic and level of commitment into other areas of your life and you will become great in those areas. That is something I learned from Kobe; he taught me that becoming a master is understanding what it takes to be great and then doing the work to become it.
What is legacy?
Another thing I learned from Kobe that I want to honor him for is how I came to understand legacy. Legacy is now what you do, but who you “be,” who you are. There are plenty of basketball players who have won MVP awards and who are Hall of Famers, but Kobe Bryant stands out amongst them. He is transcendent the way Michael Jordan is because of who he is.
Kobe accomplished a lot of things in his lifetime, he was intelligent and spoke several languages, he was always the first and last in the gym, he gave to charity, and he epitomized greatness. He attacked the game of basketball with a competitive fire and a determination to be the best. The stories of him on and off the court and how he showed up in life is his legacy, he’s leaving behind who he was and how he affected people, not just what he did.
Kobe’s passing and legacy gives the opportunity to think about our own lives. It’s easy to focus on what we’re doing, but what’s more important is who we are being, because that’s our legacy and that will be what outlasts us.
Live for today
Kobe inspired so many lives and even in his death he inspires more. The world’s tragic loss of Kobe shows that life is not guaranteed and you don’t know when you’re going to take your last breath. There’s no reason to wait to live your dream life. Many people live their lives trying to gather more resources and wait to follow their dreams, but Kobe’s death is a lesson to learn from. He had all the resources needed: money, fame, connections, and yet he is no longer around to utilize them.
Don’t waste your time trying to get more resources and not living because life is precious. Live for today, not for an un-guaranteed tomorrow.
Related Podcast Episode: 3 Things I Learned From Kobe Bryant