The sports world as a whole was crushed by the news of Kobe Bryant’s passing — along with eight other helicopter passengers, including his daughter Gianna — on Jan. 26.
As a huge Kobe fan myself, hearing the news went from surreal to downright devastating over the course of the subsequent hours and even days.
But if there’s one piece of solace I took from this horrible tragedy, it’s that the love and respect people have for Kobe poured out in waves, not only from sports fans, athletes, coaches, and front-office executives but also from many who might not have ever even seen Bryant play a basketball game before. Those individuals still felt his impact and had likely heard of the “Mamba Mentality” — something that anyone from any walk of life can learn and grow from.
The Mamba Mentality, which stems from Bryant’s nickname “The Black Mamba,” is something that a lot of MMA fighters virtually have to have in order to be successful. In fact, it can be argued that it’s never more applicable than when it comes to those who literally fight for a living. It’s the idea that through hard work, preparation, and unwavering tenacity, incredible amounts of success can be achieved. Striving to be the best and succeeding at it was Kobe’s M.O. He did it throughout his basketball career, jumping straight from high school to the NBA in 1996 and going on to win five championships with the Los Angeles Lakers over the course of 20 years in the league.
But his tireless work ethic and no-nonsense demeanor extended beyond the hardwood. Bryant’s post-retirement chapter of his life showed him as a loving father of four girls, an ambassador for basketball around the world and, perhaps more importantly, girl’s/women’s basketball, and a budding hoops analyst who was doing some great work recently with ESPN.
No doubt, the world lost a special person way too soon. But the MMA community was sure to pay homage to the “super athlete,” “leader,” “motivator,” “legend,” and “champion” that was Kobe Bean Bryant.
Horrible!!!! RIP my man 😞🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/anrin1KfWZ
— Dana White (@danawhite) January 26, 2020
A million apologies and condolences we just lost a super athlete #ripKobe
— Jorge Masvidal UFC (@GamebredFighter) January 26, 2020
Terribly sad 😭
RIP to a legend who meant so much to so many. You will be remembered forever as the champion you are.🙏 pic.twitter.com/xRVuSf157X
— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) January 26, 2020
— Amanda Nunes (@Amanda_Leoa) January 26, 2020
No way. So sad 🙏🏼 https://t.co/xZNIXCg4c1
— Frankie Edgar (@FrankieEdgar) January 26, 2020
— Aljamain Sterling (@funkmasterMMA) January 26, 2020
Just sad man…
Woke up to the news and it’s sad az.
— Israel Adesanya (@stylebender) January 26, 2020
😭😭😭😭😭 R.I.P. https://t.co/k6CY8stjED
— GILBERT BURNS DURINHO (@GilbertDurinho) January 26, 2020
Bruh wtf !?!?!!?!!??!!!
— Platinum Mike Perry (@PlatinumPerry) January 26, 2020
Profoundly sad day. https://t.co/vscYXKNuEB
— Jon Anik (@Jon_Anik) January 26, 2020
One of the greatest athletes of all time . RIP KOBE BRYANT 😢 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/iAk0vdR98B
— Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunson) January 26, 2020
I’ll rephrase my last tweet since everyone wants to talk shit.
TMZ just reported that Kobe Bryant has passed away in a helicopter crash in Calabasas. I hope it’s not true but if it is, my condolences go out to his family and the millions of lives he positively impacted. 💔
— Michael Chiesa (@MikeMav22) January 26, 2020
— Cub Swanson (@CubSwanson) January 26, 2020
What!? Is this really true? 😥 https://t.co/OEIIzBJZ9v
— Megan Anderson (@MeganA_mma) January 26, 2020
Can’t believe what I just heard. My heart is broken. God bless his family. @kobebryant
— glover teixeira (@gloverteixeira) January 26, 2020
Damn RIP Kobe. That meme with him talking to his duaghter at the game hit hard man 🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿🙏🏿
— Sodiq Yusuff (@Super_Sodiq) January 26, 2020
I just had 2 people message me that Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash. I don’t believe this. Is this for real?
— Carla Esparza (@CarlaEsparza1) January 26, 2020
— Walt Harris (@thebigticket205) January 26, 2020
RIP Mamba 😢 https://t.co/pmHZIhVAPi
— Curtis Blaydes (@RazorBlaydes265) January 26, 2020
OMG KOBE !!! 💔
— JIMI MANUWA (@POSTERBOYJM) January 26, 2020
RIP to the legend @kobebryant Honestly can’t even believe that this news is true. Growing up wasn’t a Kobe/Laker fan, but couldn’t help to admire, appreciate, and respect the competitor that he was, and all that he… https://t.co/VVRJvF7cpm
— Brad Tavares (@BradTavares) January 26, 2020
Damn, this one hurts. #KobeBryant
— Mike Jackson, Esq. (@TheTruthJackson) January 26, 2020
Man Kobe was one of my fav/ greatest athletes of all time 💔. RIP to a great one
— Eryk Anders (@erykanders) January 26, 2020
Wow 😳…. Life is precious. RIP Legend https://t.co/IsDhikzNqo
— Randy Costa (@RandyCosta135) January 26, 2020
It’s hard to believe https://t.co/fY3LyjZ5Dg
— Aiemann Zahabi (@Aiemannzahabi) January 26, 2020
Can anyone confirm is this is accurate or fake?!?! I dont know how to digest this😕
— Arjan Singh Bhullar (@TheOneASB) January 26, 2020
Man this is so sad. R.I.P 🙏🏽 https://t.co/86KWHhpcth
— Julian marquez (@JMarquezMMA) January 26, 2020
— Randa Markos (@randamma) January 26, 2020
RIP Kobe. This is a dark hour and dark world at times. But you made it a brighter place and inspired me growing up. Thank you. My heart is out to your family. ♥️
— Anthony Rocco Martin (@TonyRoccoMartin) January 26, 2020
— Jared Gordon (@JFlashGordonMMA) January 26, 2020
I am a wrestler and fighter at heart but athlete by choice. Kobe has to be one of the most iconic athletes of my generation that I can remember watching for so many years. RIP Kobe 😔
— Deron Winn (@DeronWinn) January 26, 2020
— Danger Dobson (@shana_dobson) January 26, 2020
Kobe had an invincible aura to him, almost god-like. It’s crazy to think something like this could happen to him #RIP
— Louis Smolka (@LASTSAMURAIUFC) January 26, 2020
WTF Kobe’s really dead? 😳
— Bonecrusher ☠️ (@Marc_Diakiese) January 26, 2020
RIP Legend to a legend Kobe Bryant🙏🏻
— Edmen Shahbazyan (@edmenshahbazyan) January 26, 2020
So tragic 😞 prayers to his family 🙏🏼 https://t.co/94zAhiNk50
— Niko Price (@Nikohybridprice) January 26, 2020
MAMBA MENTALITY 💔
— Boston Salmon (@bostonboomboom) January 26, 2020