The week leading up to the Super Bowl is always a weird and wacky week that is normally filled with story lines. This year it was little bit different, and I think there could be a few reasons for that. It is possible that a Super Bowl without the Patriots is just weird, and with two different teams than we have seen in the last several years it was just a weird game to begin with. Another reason is there was a story that was bigger than anything that could happen in the Super Bowl that came out just a week before the big game. 

The shocking death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year old daughter, Gigi, along with seven others was just absolutely devastating. I have had more than a week to think about it now, and it is still so shocking and sad. Everyone knows Kobe as one of the greatest athletes we have ever seenm but he was much more than that. 

One of the biggest things that always caught my attention about Kobe was his mentality. He was nicknamed the Black Mamba for a reason, and that Mamba mentality is something I will never forget. I have heard numerous stories about Kobe being the first to the gym and the last one to leave, and that is something you have to have to be one of the greatest to ever do it. 

That mentality was never on display more than in his final game, which I watched at B-Dubs with my friend Vaughn, and to this day it was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. Everyone in the restaurant was in awe of the performance he put on. The Lakers were trailing the entire game, and Kobe, who had been injured and was old and tired put on a show that anyone who watched it will never forget. He scored 60 points and brought his team back to win. This was maybe an easy option for a lot of people’s favorite Kobe memory, but it was mine because my favorite thing about him was on display. That Mamba mentality is nothing to mess with. 

I saw something following his death that I really agreed with, and it made me think about how good Kobe was. It said out of all the people that tried to be like Michael Jordan, Kobe was the closest to him. And that made me think, do you know how many kids grew up watching MJ and wanted to be like him? A lot. And out of all those kids, Kobe Bryant came the closest. 

But the saddest part about this whole thing was that he died with his daughter and seven other people. I would see videos and pictures of Kobe and Gigi all the time, and you could tell that they had an unbreakable bond. Gigi was a great basketball player in her own right and was destined to do great things. Just thinking about all the good things those people had done and were going to do made me happy but also leaves me heartbroken.

Kobe was not my favorite player just because I didn’t like the Lakers, but man he was fun to watch. He was the face of the NBA when I was growing up and is one of the greatest of all time. I wanted to take this time to talk about him because when someone puts that much effort into something they deserve as much recognition as Kobe has gotten. Although it came to soon, Mamba out. 

You can contact Ryan Birch at RBirch@RantoulPress.com or on twitter @RyanBirchRP