Kobe Bryant and What it Means to Leave a Legacy

Kobe Bryant and What it Means to Leave a Legacy


Basketball icon Kobe Bryant announced mid-season that he’ll be retiring from the NBA, and while many are sad to see him go, he also had his fair share of haters, naysayers, and negative critics.

Regardless of specific opinions, I see him as an important emblem of what it means to leave a legacy, and to stay committed to your path no matter what comes at you.

His 20 year career is coming to an end after supporting the LA Lakers in making it to five NBA championships, and that’s no small contribution. His presence on the team was a strong one, and he makes note of that in his reasons for exit.

He writes, in his first-person story “Dear Basketball”:

“This season is all I have left to give. My heart can take the pounding. My mind can handle the grind but my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.”

He’s only walking away because he physically has to, and spoken like a true leader, his mind and heart are still in the game. Kobe is one of only four players in NBA history with more than 25,000 points in his career He’s also the youngest player in NBA history to score 30,000 points. All of this from a kid who jumped into the game straight out of high school. If that’s not going hard, going all in, and giving everything for what you love — I don’t know what is. He showed up consistently and let his talent shine.

However, leaving a legacy of greatness and being in the spotlight comes with its downsides. In 2003, Kobe was accused of sexual assault, and while the charges were dropped, he received a lot of heat. To many people, it’s a mark on his character, and one that was greatly magnified by being in the spotlight. He also received some criticism around injuries, whether he was exaggerating them, and he continued to give it his all.

Even carrying this heavy burden, and having to live with the consequences of his actions, he has made a huge contribution to basketball, and his positive attributes have inspired many young people, without question. His passion for the game is undeniable. He puts it best — “you asked for my hustle, I gave you my heart, because it came with so much more.”

He stayed the course even in the midst of massive personal and public turmoil, and I think set a really good example for what it means to have integrity. Taking responsibility for your actions is important, especially as a leader or someone that anyone looks up to, and to whatever end he did so is the reason his career continued to unfold.

Work ethic and commitment are two of the things that we’re always told lead to success. It’s definitely true that they’re part of the equation, butleaving a legacy isn’t always fun, easy, or without hardship. Kobe is a shining example of the truth — which is that it’s not a cakewalk. However, if you’re relentlessly passionate, capable of overcoming the criticisms and attitudes of others, and willing to keep showing up fully for what you care about — you will have an impact on this world.

He went out with a bang last night, scoring 60 points in his final game. I don’t think there’s anyone who would question his dedication and focus. While I’m sad to see Kobe go, I’m inspired by what he’s done. As Kobe says “you gave a six year old boy his Laker dream, and I’ll always love you for it.”A true example of what it means to live your dream, leave a legacy, and overcome all the hurdles to getting there.

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