It has been two weeks since that tragic day in California. It still doesn’t feel real that Kobe Bryant is no longer with us, and I don’t think it ever will.
Bruce Lee is one of my biggest role models and inspirations in my life, and has been even as a child. I started out as a fan of his films and his mastery of martial arts when I was younger, and have become a fan of his philosophies as I’ve grown into an adult. My path in life has been shaped by Bruce Lee in some way since I first heard about him, even though I was born in 1990 —17 years after Lee’s untimely death. How is it that one man’s legacy can be so strong that even death cannot stop people from being inspired by it? This is the meaning of “Legends Never Die.”
Bruce Lee was so determined, so steadfast in his goals, that it inspired others around him to become better versions of themselves. It wasn’t just that he was incredibly talented, both creatively and physically, but also that he kept pushing to become better when others might be satisfied with success. This is what made Bruce Lee legendary, both in life and death. With the sad news of Kobe Bryant's death, I cannot help but find similarities between him and Bruce Lee.
Both men were considered the greatest in their respective crafts. Neither let these considerations stop them from becoming even better. Not only did they want greatness for themselves, but also for those around them. This is what made Kobe Bryant great beyond his talents on the court. He truly wanted people to take his Mamba Mentality for themselves, instead of keeping that philosophy to himself.
Kobe Bryant seemed immortal. An ever present figure in lives around the world. He was unavoidable even to me — a kid who didn’t watch any basketball or care about sports at all. And sure, there’s ways to do this with shoe deals or movies, but Bryant did this by being the best player in the league. Instead of searching for a way to become famous outside of basketball, he used his talents to become a household name. Back then, you couldn’t just throw away trash. You had to shoot it in, and you had to say, “Kobe!” when you did.
That is what made the news of his death so shocking, so utterly saddening. It felt as if Hercules died. I’m sure this is exactly how the world felt when Bruce Lee died as well. How could someone so incredible not make it into old age, but instead be taken by tragedy? Joe Freshgoods said it best in his tweet.
But just like Bruce Lee’s ability to inspire young people decades after he left this mortal coil, Kobe Bryant’s mamba mentality will continue to inspire people to push harder, give more, and sacrifice whatever is needed to become better than they are today. He will not be forgotten in the folds of time. He will live on in the millions of people inspired by him, because heroes get remembered, but legends never die.