The Loss of a Legend: The Public’s Reaction to the Death of Kobe Bryant

On January 26, 2020, ex-Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant, along with eight others, was killed tragically in a helicopter crash while on his way to a basketball game in Thousand Oaks, California. Once the news broke, the public mourned his loss by flooding social media and showing how much “Big Mamba” has impacted our generation.

Kobe Bryant was to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in August 2020. Now a posthumous ceremony, Bryant will be honored alongside fellow basketball players, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett. However, the public demands more to be done to honor Bryant’s hailing achievements as the Lakers’ shooting guard for twenty years. One person, who goes by Nick M. on, created an online petition to put a silhouette of Bryant as the new National Basketball Association (NBA) logo. In his description, Nick M. states, “With the untimely and unexpected passing of the great Kobe Bryant please sign this petition in an attempt to immortalize him forever as the new NBA Logo.” With over three million signatures as of February 13, the NBA may need to consider this public outcry to change the current NBA logo silhouette, Jerry West, to Kobe Bryant.

Gianna Bryant, Kobe’s daughter, was also killed in the crash.

The 13-year-old was planning to follow the same path as her father and play in the Women’s NBA. Throughout the years, Gianna has specifically shown her support for the University of Connecticut Women’s Basketball team. The Bryant family was very close to the team, and reportedly, Gianna wanted to become a UConn Husky in her future. The team was heartbroken after hearing the news of their deaths and decided to honor the two at their game in Hartford on January 27. The Huskies had a moment of silence for the father and daughter, and they placed a jersey with the number two on a chair in the sidelines. UConn Head Coach, Geno Auriemma, also decided to honor Kobe by wearing a Lakers jersey under his blazer during the game. The team finally took to Twitter to say, “Mambacita [Gianna] is Husky forever,” with a picture of the jersey with flowers.

EHHS was also struck with a wave of sadness when the students discovered the legendary Kobe Bryant died. Many students posted on Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter to mourn the loss of the esteemed player. Dante Sigular, EHHS senior, was especially hurt by the loss of Bryant, whom he considered an idol. When describing his initial reaction to Kobe’s death, he says, “At first it didn't seem real. I checked all the news outlets to confirm it and once I did I was speechless…He inspired me to get into the world of sports and he's the reason why I like basketball and football so much.”

Even students who were not necessarily his fans were shocked by his passing. One sophomore, Amanda Martindale, said, “There was a lot of love going out to his family… he impacted our generation.” Another senior, Tatum Punzo believes Bryant’s death is so heartbreaking because “He’s one of the greatest basketball players of all time.” Kobe Bryant’s death impacted people internationally, while also leaving a mark on many of the people in our own East Haven community.

Kobe Bryant was known and loved by many for his outstanding athletic abilities, but his philanthropy was another admirable trait of his; Bryant did a lot for the basketball community. In 2009, he established the Kobe Bryant China Fund, which raised money for education and sports programs in China. He also opened the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation with his wife, as well as donating to countless other charities. Dante amends Kobe for his benevolent work, “He was a great human being off the court too, besides being one of the best basketball players of all time.” Even after Kobe Bryant’s untimely and tragic death, his legacy will live on through the people he has impacted everywhere.