PORTSMOUTH — Today’s high school student-athletes weren’t there for the early days of Kobe Bryant’s career.
Your standard 17 or 18-year-old junior or senior today would have been a newborn when Bryant and Shaq were winning their third and final championship as a Lakers duo at the end of the 2001-02 NBA season.
After the tragic deaths of Kobe and eight others just outside Los Angeles Sunday morning, student-athletes in the area took to social media to express their condolences for the lives that were lost.
Throughout the first half of the week, basketball gyms across the United States and the world paid homage to Bryant and those who lost their lives.
Here in Scioto County, moments of silence were observed in several gyms to honor the fallen. In addition, the New Boston boys basketball team wore custom shirts during pregame to honor Bryant while each member of the Portsmouth boys basketball team wore their Kobe Nike shoes.
Students at South Webster went viral Monday when they submitted a video to ESPN’s SportsCenter Instagram account. The video showed throwing paper-balls at a trash can with the time “8:24 a.m.” written clearly across the video, another unique tribute to the nine passengers aboard Bryant’s helicopter.
At the time of this story, that same video has more than 4.3 million views.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a legend as, “A famous or important person who is known for doing something extremely well,” and an icon as, “a person who is very successful and admired.”
Whichever noun you prefer to describe his legacy and his impact on the world, Bryant is each of those things and more — even to a generation unable to experience the better part of his career firsthand.
As those around the world struggle with their grief, The Daily Times gave student-athletes from Scioto County and the surrounding area an outlet — via an online Google Form — to express their feelings about Kobe’s impact on their childhood, the tragedy of Sunday’s accident, and anything else they wanted to share.
The Daily Times received more than 40 responses from those wishing to express themselves. Their answers are as genuine as you can find:
What was your favorite thing about Kobe?
My favorite thing about Kobe had to be his willingness to get better. He knew he was the best at what he did, but he didn’t stop there. He was more than a basketball player and he knew that he could use his power to inspire many. – Jarrett Stamper, 12th grade, Wheelersburg
His mentality, the way he played the game, the leader and type of person he was – Myles Beasley, ninth grade, South Webster
His work ethic and how he was so confident in his own abilities – Seth, ninth grade, Notre Dame
His passion for the game – Caleb Nichols, 11th grade, Notre Dame
That even when he was succeeding, he felt like it wasn’t good enough and he went for bigger and better – Carl Howard, 11th grade, West
His passion for not only the game but also being the best family man he could be as well – Chase Conley, 11th grade, Wheelersburg
His work ethic – Jackson Clark, 11th grade, Notre Dame
His mentality and approach to work ethic in basketball and life – Miles Shipp, 11th grade, Portsmouth
He wasn’t just a basketball player. He was way more… He was a very good father, plus he has inspired so many young kids around the world, maybe even adults. – Ellie Kallner, 11th grade, Wheelersburg
He got drafted to the NBA straight out of high school – Matthew Haddox, 10th grade, New Boston
Favorite Kobe memory?
Getting my Kobe jersey signed on Feb. 15, 2011, and getting a few words of inspiration from him while he was warming up vs. the Cavs – Caleb Jenkins, 11th grade, Northwest
When he tore his Achilles and still shot the free throws – Gabe Ruth, 12th grade, South Webster
Sixty points in his final game – Billy Crabtree, 12th grade, Northwest
When Kobe broke Matt Barnes ankles – Raymond Solomon, eighth grade, Portsmouth
Too many to name – Cooper McKenzie, 10th grade, Wheelersburg
His last game speech, Mamba out – Malachi Dempsey, ninth grade, Portsmouth
When Kobe shot those free throws with a torn Achilles, it just showed the world that he was different. Most people wouldn’t have the resilience to do it. – Jermaine Powell, 10th grade, Notre Dame
When he ended his career with 60pts and 4ast – Levi, 10th grade, New Boston
Mentality, always wanted the ball in the clutch – Kyle Sexton, 10th grade, New Boston
When he finished his career with 60 against the Jazz – Evan Woods, 11th grade, Clay
Anything you learned about Kobe since his death?
The impact he has put on not just the basketball world, but everyone – Ava Hassel, 11th grade, Notre Dame
Kobe will forever leave a legacy for the Staples Center, the NBA, our generation of athletes who aspire to be just like him, and millions all over the world. – Nick Mowery, 11th grade, Valley
How much he was loved and respected – Bella Fannin, seventh grade, Green
We need to live our lives, hold on to our memories, and be thankful for what we have – Skyler Holbrook, 11th, SCCTC
How much he truly meant to not only the game but the whole word – Lane Bond, 11th grade, South Webster
I learned about how great of a family man he was and the fantastic father he was to his daughters. – Caden Brammer, 12th grade, Green
His nickname came from him. It was an alter-ego representing his work ethic and his attitude that he would never be stopped on the court. – Malachi Potts, 12th grade, New Boston
Anything else you want to add:
He will never be forgotten. It’s so sad that they passed away, his daughter was going to grow up and be just like him – Chloe Wright, ninth grade, South Webster
I believe that Kobe is probably the most competitive basketball player in NBA history – Cam Carpenter, 10th grade, South Webster
Kobe inspired me as a little kid to never stop working harder than the next person, he taught me poise and how to have a killer instinct. I believe staying up and watching Kobe montages until 4 a.m. really helped me develop into the ballplayer I am today. He is why I put everything on the line when I step onto the field or court – Dakota Dodds, 12th grade, Clay
Life was ended way too short for Kobe, Gigi and the seven others. They all had a plan for tomorrow. Death comes without warning. Cherish every moment and never take any of it for granted – J.J. Truitt, 11th grade, Wheelersburg
He was my favorite player of all time and he was an inspiration to me and my favorite quote by him is “You asked for my hustle, I gave you my heart” – Brady Voiers, 10th grade, New Boston
Growing up, I remember watching YouTube videos every day that broke down Kobe’s moves, and I would go outside immediately and start practicing. I idolized him and always wanted to be like him, from the great footwork to the mamba face, he is a really big part of my life, and who I am. – Levi Murphy, 12th grade, South Webster
Kobe is the goat. May he, Gigi, and the other victims Rest In Peace – Jayse Tabor, eighth grade, New Boston
© 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved