Photo Credit: Kobe Bryant/Instagram

NBA star Kobe Bryant has passed away today at 41 in a fiery helicopter crash on the hills of Calabasas, CA. Occurring around 10am Pacific time, deputies responded to the scene near Las Virgenes Road and Willow Glen Street where all 5 aboard the helicopter were deceased. “I heard the plane splutter and then a boom,” LA Times reporter Richard Winton tweeted about the incident. An NTSB investigation is currently underway as to the cause of the crash. Bryant was known for taking helicopters as his preferred mode of transportation game day so as to avoid traffic so seeing that he could be involved in some form of reckless air travel is hard to imagine.

Known as the hardest working man in the NBA, Bryant’s work ethic was endlessly covered over the years. He showed up for practice at 5 am and left at 7 pm during high school. He also wouldn’t stop practicing until he reached 400 shots. He trained for at least 4 hours a day and longer during the off season. Then there’s the fact he began to teach himself how to play the piano. He taught himself how to play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata by ear for the sole purpose of saving his marriage. Now that is dedication. On a lighter note, he revealed in an interview in the 90s that he was a Spice Girls fan and the reason was for the positive image they portrayed, something he would go on to try to exemplify himself in his career. He bought out a Philadelphia theater just this month for people in his hometown to see the legal drama Just Mercy.

Though he retired in 2016, his career plans hadn’t stopped. He met with J.K. Rowling of the Harry Potter series as a part of a number of business ventures he was working on. He won Best Animated Short Film award in 2018 for his film Dear Basketball. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough for him to be added to the Film academy as they stated he needed to show “some evidence of a larger career” in film animation before being added. But outside of film, he had formed the company Kobe, Inc. where he was building a team to start new businesses. His first investment was the upstart sports drink Bodyarmor. He was scheduled to be in a Showtime documentary on his life and career that’s airing this fall. Director Gotham Chopra said in a statement, “As a lifelong Boston Celtics fan, never did I imagine I would collaborate with Laker great Kobe Bryant. Kobe’s quest for greatness transcends rivalries and I’m excited by his and Showtime’s willingness to go down this rabbit hole together. I’m confident audiences will be intrigued by what comes out the other side.”

Bryant’s death is a significant cultural shock and one of the ways to tell is the fact that it’s been awhile since nearly every last person I have push notifications on for on social media across platforms have been non-stop saying their parting words to him. He had the record for having third place with the most points on the leaderboard who had just been passed by Lebron James literally just last night. And personally, I grew up watching him. He’s someone many of us fully expected to be around who we would get to see his post NBA career flourish especially with the businesses he was starting. This is a major loss.