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Adulting 101: Top life lessons Kobe Bryant taught us

Kobe Bryant may have thrilled basketball fans with his sharpshooting skills and high-flying dunks, but the Los Angeles Lakers superstar also made an impact around the world with his Mamba Mentality mantra. 

The five-time NBA champion, also known as the "Black Mamba," broke records and inspired many to rise amid struggles as he also fought through multiple injuries, adversities, and scandals in his 20-year NBA career. 

That's why the tragic death of Kobe, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and 7 others, plunged the world into mourning, proving that his influence goes beyond the sporting world.

Here are just some of the lessons that Kobe's life has taught us:

Not giving up

"My brain... it cannot process failure. It will not process failure. Because if I sit there and have to face myself and tell myself, ‘You’re a failure’... I think that’s almost worse than death." 

The main premise of Mamba Mentality is how to power through the most challenging times of your life. 

Kobe sustained plenty of injuries – from his wrists to his shoulders and ankles – in his 20 years of playing in the NBA. But what made people believe in the impossible is how he played through them until his retirement in 2016. 

One of the most iconic moments of Kobe's sheer grit was when he tore his Achilles in a 2013 game against the Golden State Warriors, but still managed to trudge to the free throw line and make both charities before exiting the game. 

A hard worker all his life, Kobe constantly showcased his winning mentality and led the Lakers to a three-peat from 2000 to 2002 and back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010. 

Facing fear and pressure

"Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise."

Many of us have gone through times where we feel scared of taking risks and failing, but Kobe had always been brave enough to push himself harder until he achieved his desired results. 

Yet even after clinching titles and breaking NBA records, Kobe would not be satisfied and always strived to become better than he was, no matter the criticisms and limitations – a disposition that made him a true league icon.

Staying motivated

"I can’t relate to lazy people. We don’t speak the same language. I don’t understand you. I don’t want to understand you."

Kobe's trademark includes an insane work ethic that's fueled by his eternal desire to continue improving himself. 

Some stories go way back to when he was in high school, with accounts from his coaches and teammates remembering how Kobe would start training at dawn and practice for more than 6 hours in the morning. 

Even during the off-season, Kobe's workout included 2 hours of track, 2 hours of basketball and 2 hours of cardio or weightlifting. Not to mention the suicide push-ups, where he launches himself from the mat and slaps his pecs. 

Aside from sticking to his grueling schedule, Kobe would also immerse himself in hours of film study before games and live a life without sugar and pizza as part of his strict diet. 

Being a leader

"The topic of leadership is a touchy one. A lot of leaders fail because they don’t have the bravery to touch that nerve or strike that chord. Throughout my years, I haven’t had that fear."

For the incredible talent that he has, it is no question that Kobe is the default leader of the Los Angeles Lakers during his career. 

The 18-time NBA All-Star became the youngest NBA player at 34 years and 104 days old to eclipse 30,000 career points in 2013 and was the Lakers' all-time leading scorer in February 2010. 

In 2006, he hit his career high of 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, which remains as the second-highest number of points scored in a single game behind Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point performance. 

Until his NBA swan song in 2016, Kobe dropped 60 points against the Utah Jazz to close out his career. 

After his basketball retirement, the Lakers great led various business ventures such as the Mamba Sports Academy and projects in other industries like his short film Dear Basketball, which won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2018. 

Role model parenting

"Use your success, wealth and influence to put them in the best position to realize their own dreams and find their true purpose. Put them through school, set them up with job interviews and help them become leaders in their own right. Hold them to the same level of hard work and dedication that it took for you to get to where you are now, and where you will eventually go."

Kobe was also a winner in his family as he dearly loved his wife Vanessa and 4 daughters – Natalia, Gianna, Bianka and Capri. 

Two daughters pursued a sporting career as the eldest Natalia, 17, sees action as a volleyball middle blocker, while the 13-year-old Gianna had hoped to follow her father's footsteps as a basketball superstar. 

Also known as "Mambacita" for her playing style and talent akin to Kobe's, Gianna was also personally trained by her dad and the NBA legend started watching games live regularly again to immerse Gianna into the big stage. 

Kobe was proud of being a "girl dad" and ESPN broadcaster Elle Duncan even shared a touching encounter that had her tearing up on air.

"He immediately commented on my rather large eight-month pregnant belly. ‘How are you? How close are you? What are you having?’" started Duncan. 

"‘A girl,’ I said, and then he high-fived me."

"‘Girls are the best.’ I asked him for advice on raising girls, seeing as he had 3 at the time. He said, ‘Just be grateful that you are being given that gift because girls are amazing.’" 

"And he said that his wife Vanessa wanted to try again for a boy, but was jokingly concerned it would be a girl."

"I was like, ‘4 girls, are you joking? What would you think, how would you feel?’ And without hesitation, he said, ‘I would have 5 more girls if I could. I’m a girl dad.’"

Owning up to mistakes and moving forward

"I’m reflective only in the sense that I learn to move forward. I reflect with a purpose."

Kobe wasn't perfect. His decorated career was also marred with scandals and issues which were controversially highlighted by Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez as her tweets brought up Kobe's 2003 rape case hours after his death. 

Back then, the late Lakers star admitted to committing adultery and apologized to his victim as he thought that the sex was consensual. 

Kobe also had a longtime feud with former Lakers teammate Shaquille O'Neal despite winning 3 championships together. But over the years, both superstars managed to mend their friendship and develop mutual respect. 

Loving the game

"The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do."

Kobe was a hero to many, emulated even by today's most outstanding NBA players. But beyond his on-court achievements, he showed real passion for the sport by investing time in coaching and developing youth programs. 

A staunch supporter of women's sports and the WNBA, Kobe also imagined his daughter Gianna joining the ranks of great sportswomen like Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe. 

Kobe's contributions to the world may have ended, but his Mamba spirit will live on forever. – Rappler.com 

Beatrice Go

More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.

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