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Kobe: An American MVP

BCK FILE--Kobe Bryant transcended what Aldous Huxley characterized as “nineteen suburbs in search of a metropolis.” He was a legend, an American hero, in Los Angeles and beyond.  

“People are going to miss his smile and just miss him because Kobe has an aura about him. I thought he was going to live forever, I thought he was invincible. He played like that, he walked like that, he was just a confident young man,” commented Magic Johnson, who has had a similar impact through his career. “The city needs more heroes; we need our heroes to be here and this is not a good day for the city of Los Angeles because we need Kobe to still be around. Our kids who idolized him, our fans who idolized him. There was more for him to do, he died way too early.”

Kobe’s skills on the court were legendary. He had five NBA championships under his belt, as well as 2 Olympic gold medals and an NBA MVP honor. When he retired from the Lakers in 2016, he held the record for third-leading scoring player in the NBA, a record he held until just Saturday night when LeBron James passed his record, according to the Associated Press. 

Like Magic Johnson, Kobe’s iconic stature went far beyond basketball, the game he loved. “Kobe Bryant was a giant who inspired, amazed, and thrilled people everywhere with his incomparable skills on the court -- and awed us with his intellect and humility as a father, husband, creative genius, and ambassador for the game he loved,” tweeted Mayor Garcetti. “Kobe will live forever in the heart of Los Angeles and will be remembered through the ages as one of our greatest heroes.”

“Despite winning five NBA championships and two gold Olympic medals, and achieving countless accolades in the athletics world, he also helped improve the lives of youth and families through the Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Bryant Foundation, and was an outspoken advocate for combatting homelessness through partnerships with organizations such as My Friend’s Place and Step Up on Second,” tweeted Gov. Newsom. 

Kobe was well on his way to a second act, winning an Academy Award in 2018 for Best Animated Short for Dear Basketball, which he wrote and narrated about his retirement from basketball. 

Following his Oscar win, he told reporters it had always been his dream to write. He started a production company, Kobe Studios, rebranded as Granity Studios. The company website reads:

Formed by NBA Legend Kobe Bryant, Granity Studios is an award-winning multimedia company focused on creating new ways to tell stories around sports. Stories that are crafted to entertain, by bringing education and inspiration together. 

We partner with award-winning writers, producers, and illustrators to awaken the imagination of young athletes and foster emotional and mental development that allows them to reach their full potential. 

To develop and nurture sports skills in youth, Kobe Bryant started his Mamba Academy in Thousand Oaks, where he was headed with his daughter Gianna, 13, this Sunday for a noon basketball game when the helicopter they were traveling in crashed in the hills above Calabasas. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said nine people were killed in the crash. 

Like many who die too soon, we will never know what else Kobe would have accomplished but he has left an indelible mark on basketball, the city of Los Angeles, and beyond. 

He will be missed.

(Beth Cone Kramer is a professional writer and covers The Resistance and other important and topical issues for CityWatch.)

-cw