This past Sunday, January 26, 2020, the world lost one of its greatest basketball players of all time. But Kobe Bryant wasn’t just a great basketball player or athlete—at least not for me—he was a great person with an extremely focused work ethic that I have always admired and believed in. I won’t lie; growing up, I didn’t watch a lot of basketball or idolize Kobe as a player like a lot of other people did. I liked Kobe because of his work ethic: the obsession for perfection and determination to succeed no matter what. If you know me, you know that I seldom settle for less than perfect and I am tenacious to the point that I’ll happily sacrifice sleep or rest in order to achieve my goals. If you want to achieve great things and make your own path, you won’t get there by half-assing anything.
When Kobe gave himself the nickname “Black Mamba,” it served as an alter-ego that got him through the lowest point in his career. As an athlete, Kobe had one of the fiercest competitive spirits.
“Mamba mentality is all about focusing on the process and trusting in the hard work when it matters most. It’s the ultimate mantra for the competitive spirit…. It’s grown into something athletes—even non-athletes—embrace as a mindset. Hard work outweighs talent—every time.” (Kobe Bryant)
It’s this mentality that gets me up at 4am in the morning even on days that I’m feeling dead or beat, and gets me running 5 miles before anyone is even awake. I am relentless, obsessive, and if anything, I know that I can trust in the hard work that I put in every day.
Beyond that, Kobe was also a philanthropist and his work impacted many lives in positive, real ways. He created foundations to help people, especially children, such as building an academy to house sports programs for young athletes and adults. I’ve taught and trained a lot of kids and I’ve seen many times what a positive influence that learning sports can do for children. Kobe was someone who was in a great position to help others and he did so with enthusiasm. Not everyone who can make a difference does. It’s hard not to admire someone like that no matter what teams or players you support.
Truthfully, I think that we could all do a lot of good and get a lot of shit done if more people lived by the Mamba mentality. I realized a long time ago that if I wanted something, I needed to work harder than anyone to get it because it wasn’t going to fall into my lap. I also want to do more to help others in meaningful ways, whether that is through providing empowering boxing classes, building supportive and positive communities, or even one day creating a foundation of my own. I like to think that I’ve been living by that mentality—the Bamba mentality—for a while now and will continue to do so just like Kobe.