Kobe Bryant's "Mamba mentality" will be remembered most

Los Angeles Lakers v Charlotte Bobcats

There's so much to say about the terrible helicopter crash that ended the lives of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others. Each life lost in that crash is as valuable as the next, but Kobe's resonates the most. That's not only because of his fame, brand or championships. It's because of his "Mamba mentality" which has become so rare. The won't-even-crack-a-smile-until-I-win attitude. The perfection-seeking mentality that's so easy to avoid in 2020, with so many options for gratification outside of the actual win-loss scoreboard of life. Need a pick-me-up? Say something popular on Twitter, collect likes. Need a self-esteem boost? We have mirror selfies for that. Want your opinion validated? Pick your news channel. Our society has been shaped so that none of us has to feel discomfort, and too often it lulls us into a false sense of accomplishment, only to leave us craving something real when we're left alone. Kobe Bryant represented that there is another option. We can demand excellence from ourselves. We don't need to take the easy road.

There's a million of these videos being shared across the internet, but this one stood out because it contains two people that believe in the lost art of working before playing. It's the reason Kobe wasn't well-liked when he first got into the NBA. He wasn't interested in the nightclubs his teammates mingled in. It's the reason he could never really get along with Shaquille O'Neal. It's the reason Nick Saban's a famous grump, and the reason Bill Belichick's at his friendliest during Super Bowl week media availability. The only thing that ever makes, or made, these men happy is the real thing. Not a like, retweet, or pat on the back. A ring.

That's why when news broke of Kobe's death on Sunday morning, our rapid, stop-for-nothing news cycle slammed to a halt. Kobe's entire ethos was, never say die. Just two years after his first ballot hall of fame NBA career ended, he was winning more. His short film, "Dear Basketball" won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film. That moment proved that Kobe's tireless work ethic didn't just apply to basketball. It was a life-long mentality. How could a man who made it so abundantly clear he had so much more to give to the world be gone before he even started?

Of course, the Mamba mentality has its downfalls. Kobe, like Belichick, Saban and so many others in and out of sports that worked relentlessly towards their pursuit of the mountaintop, missed out on family time. But he made clear, deliberate efforts in his post-playing days to be a family man. The Mamba energy became more available for Kobe's wife, Vanessa, and his four daughters. That's perhaps the saddest part of this all. Eddie Johnson summarized it nicely before the Suns played the Grizzlies Sunday afternoon.

Maybe the greatest lesson we can learn about the Mamba mentality is that embracing it doesn't just affect you. It inspires so many around you. The world stopped today. Not the sports world, the world. We were in awe and inspired that a man could have so much drive to be great, even after accomplishing things that most of us could only dream of.

As for the eight others who died during the Calabasas crash, I wish I could write eight more stories about the qualities that each one of those people brought into this world. I don't know them. I'm sure that the proper reporting will be done, and I'm sure journalists in the surrounding areas will tell their stories with a Mamba mentality.

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