In this series, I re-imagine the lives of Black folks gone too soon.
#BlackHistoryReimagined, Day 26: Kobe Bryant, born on August 23, 1978, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is best known as an NBA legend who spent his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers where he helped the team win five championships. Other impressive stats include being an 18-time All-Star, a 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, a 12-time member of the All-Defensive Team, the 2008 NBA MVP, and a two-time NBA Finals MVP. Outside of his own basketball playing, Bryant partners with Nike and the Boys & Girls Club of Los Angeles to lead the Mamba League, for which his daughter Gianna is a member. He is also an Oscar-award-winning writer, nabbing the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film for “Dear Basketball,” based on his poem written upon his NBA retirement announcement, making him the first African American ever to win in the category. Bryant spends his free time engaging in sporting activities, supporting his athletic daughters, and volunteering at elementary schools.
On January 26, 2020, Bryant, Gianna, and several others narrowly escaped a near-fatal helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. Upon several months of recovery and the solitude of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns amid a nasty 2020 election season, Bryant began making a huge buzz discussing the country’s political landscape, in particular as it concerned the race between WNBA’s Atlanta Dream owner Kelly Loeffler and Rev. Raphael Warnock for one of Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats. After Loeffler’s summer 2020 letter to WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert that showed the pro-Trump politician come out against her own players’ plan to wear “Black Lives Matter” and “Say Her Name” warm-ups, Bryant decided to make her an offer she couldn’t refuse. He purchased the team and later gifted it to former Dream star Renee Montgomery, who retired in June 2020 citing concerns of racism and COVID-19. To continue supporting the sport overall as well as his daughter’s WNBA dreams, Bryant is hard at work on an advocacy and outreach campaign to raise the ratings and the salaries of women basketball players, as well as provide more league opportunities.
[#BlackHistoryReimagined is a series of posts that re-imagines the lives of Black folks gone too soon, by writing a story that does not end in their deaths. Throughout this month, I implore you to go on this imaginary journey with me and think of what could have been. The stories are based on the people’s real lives; the ending has been altered to allow them to live out whatever they were actually working on or could have done had they been given more time on earth.]