Black Mamba Joins List of Notable US Athletes Who Died In Air Crashes
NBA officially stood for National Basketball Association until a copter crash last Sunday near Los Angeles brought down the title. As Thanatos scripted the tragedy, the five-time NBA champion and double Olympic gold medalist Kobe Bryant was destined to be tossed off the heaven with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. The news of KB’s death sprang like a Ball Hog, setting time to a funeral halt.
KB’s quest for the sport began when he was just 3; a thin figure aspiring to acquire world fame at 18. The legends say his power on the ball was impeccable, could spin like a falcon, and led the Lakers conceitedly. The star also won an Oscar for best animated short for ‘Dear Basketball’, based on his poem.
The world knows that of the four daughters, little Gianna is daddy’s sweetheart. Her herculean grit to play for the University of Connecticut, and step into the Women’s National Basketball Association was daring. KB called her ‘something else’ when she was on the turf.
Bryant was an achiever when it came to finishing things in style. “He had zero flaws offensively. Zero. He could shoot the three. He could go around you. He could shoot the midrange…. That’s something I admired as well,” said a grieving Laker, LeBron James.
“He was a fierce competitor, one of the greats of the game and a creative force,” said a sobbing Michael Jordan, another NBA icon. However, what remains unacceptable is how death took him away.
The front page of several American dailies hosted headlines, each mourning the death of ‘giant of sport’ in unique ways. While Arizona Republic tore into the heart of the club, calling it, ‘Lakers legend dies’, Calgary Sun called it ‘Loss of a legend’ and Toronto Star suited him with a ‘Larger than life’ title. A channel also sported the ‘prediction’ of an eight-year-old Twitterati — who, in November 2012 — had said: ‘Kobe is going to end up dying in a helicopter crash’. The storm had then passed silently. Even at 35, the victor could suit up and effortlessly beat his rivals.
KB called himself Black Mamba and twice bagged the ‘Most Valuable Player’ award in 2008. Even before he grabbed the gold title that year in Beijing Olympic Games, KB’s jersey sold the most in China. Following the tournament, he set up the Kobe Bryant China Fund in 2009, giving educational and sports opportunities in Asia. It seemed like Mamba’s love for children spread like an infection.
Bryant retired from the sport in April 2016, when his “body knew it was time to say goodbye.” Four years later, this January, KB joins the list of athletes who died of air crashes. The first among them is Cincinnati Reds pitcher Marvin Goodwin, who died in October 1925. Others include 40-year-old Halladay, a former Toronto Blue Jays and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, 34-year-old Cory Lidle, of New York Yankees, et al.
The star will no longer cheer for the Lakes, but his words for wife Venessa ‘Queen’ Laine will continue to echo forever. “You’re my backbone. You’re a blessing. You’re a piece of my heart. You’re the air I breathe.” A farewell to the departed was organized at Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks on Sunday as fans lit candles. A board hung gloomily, read ‘Closed’.
Rest in peace, KB.
Kobe was a legend on the court and just getting started in what would have been just as meaningful a second act. To lose Gianna is even more heartbreaking to us as parents. Michelle and I send love and prayers to Vanessa and the entire Bryant family on an unthinkable day. — Barack Obama (@BarackObama) Jan 26, 2020.