Kobe Bryant, who died at age 41 in a helicopter crash on a steep hillside in the dense morning fog in Southern California on Sunday, had one of the greatest careers in basketball history.

The late icon became one of the game’s most popular players as the face of the 16-time NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers franchise.

Bryant was the league MVP in 2008 and a two-time NBA scoring champion, and he earned 12 selections to the NBA’s All-Defensive teams.

The superstar retired in 2016 after scoring 60 points in his final NBA game.

He also left behind deep, memorable words that detailed the ideas behind his life of prominence.


He Was His Own Man

In 1997, he deflected comparisons between himself and Michael Jordan:  “I don’t want to be the next Michael Jordan, I only want to be Kobe Bryant.”

His Goal Was Excellence

In a 2015 Showtime special, Bryant said about his determination for greatness: “There’s a choice that we have to make as people, as individuals. If you want to be great at something, there’s a choice you have to make. We all can be masters at our craft, but you have to make a choice. What I mean by that is, there are inherent sacrifices that come along with that. Family time, hanging out with friends, being a great friend, being a great son, nephew, whatever the case may be. There are sacrifices that come along with making that decision.”

His Style of Play

In a 2015 interview with GQ, he talked about the ideology behind his style of play: “I’ve shot too much from the time I was eight years old. But ‘too much’ is a matter of perspective. Some people thought Mozart had too many notes in his compositions. Let me put it this way: I entertain people who say I shoot too much. I find it very interesting. Going back to Mozart, he responded to critics by saying there were neither too many notes or too few. There were as many as necessary.”

On His Nickname: The Black Mamba

He said about the creation of his alter ego: “I had to organize things. So I created the ‘Black Mamba’. So Kobe has to deal with these issues, all the personal challenges. The Black Mamba steps on the court and does what he does. I’m destroying everybody that steps on the court.”

He said the alter ego saved him from a dark chapter in his life when he felt the world was against him.

"I went from a person who was at the top of his game, had everything coming, to a year later, having absolutely no idea where life is going or if you are even going to be a part of life as we all know it," Bryant said in his auto-documentary, "Muse," released during his final season.

Bryant was reportedly headed toward Mamba Sports Academy in California on Sunday morning when their helicopter crashed. He co-founded the training facility for professional and amateur athletes in Thousand Oaks in 2018.

His Philosophy for Young Athletes

In October 2018, Bryant held court about his coaching philosophies and the state of youth sports. Bryant was the headliner for the Aspen Institute’s annual summit on youth sports. The gathering was meant to foster discussion about how to improve youth sports in America.

“For adults, it’s important for us to get out of the way. Sometimes the most important thing to do is to just observe,” Bryant said. “You just watch and then you can guide.”

Bryant added: “As parents of young athletes and coaches, if we are constantly providing the answer for them, they will not be able to problem-solve on their own. Give them the tools to go out and finish.”


He noted that he was exposed to the European model of youth sports while spending much of his childhood in Italy. He said playing soccer helped him develop a better understanding of basketball’s complexities because it showed him how ball movement between two players can open an opportunity for a third.

“Sports has become very structured, which is also concerning,” he said. “We don’t have time to bring that imagination out. It’s a really big concern. In practice at least once a week, the first 20 minutes of practice, I have just imagination play.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.