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Kobe Bryant was to many, a leader and a hero. To me, he was so much more. He was the definition of hard work.

Kobe Bryant, the basketball icon who won five NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers, unfortunately died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, leaving a legacy that spanned 20 years in professional sports and a growing second career as an investor. Bryant was among nine people who met misfortune, when the helicopter slammed into a hillside in Calabasas, California. He was 41. Yet another heart-breaking news is that among the victims were his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, another parent and a teammate from Gianna's travel sports team.

The shock that accompanies Kobe’s death cannot be overstated. People throughout the basketball world and beyond took to social media to share their grief.

Through the course of his NBA career, he picked up the nickname, Black Mamba. He was known for his killer work ethic and aggressive mindset. This would forever need known as Mamba mentality.

Bryant was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1978. His father, Joe Bryant, was an NBA player, and once his days in the league ran out, he joined the Italian League, moving his family with him. Bryant grew up with his two older sisters, Shaya and Sharia, playing soccer, basketball, and learning Italian before moving back to Philadelphia in 1991. Bryant joined the Lower Merion High School basketball squad, and led them to four straight state championship appearances—becoming such a promising prospect that he decided to enter the NBA draft right after graduation.

He was so devoted to his work that he would start a practice at 4:15 in the morning, and not leave until he made 800 shots.

He won an Oscar in 2018 for an animated short film about his love for basketball. He also had plans to be an entertainment mogul in the years to come. In 2012, I had moved to Chennai after growing up in Dubai for my entire life. There were many varying factors which I wasn’t ready for and different environments which I wasn’t used to but one thing that remained constant, my entire life, was my love for the game of basketball. That love was only intensified when I watched Kobe.

One of the last and best memories of Dubai was watching Kobe win back to back titles, when I was 9 years old and practising fades away in the living room while ecstatically shouting “Kobe!!!”.

The mamba represented a lot for the culture, for athletes and for the game of basketball. The numbers 8 and 24 that he wore will forever be etched into the hearts of basketball fans worldwide.

He is, and always will be, The Black Mamba.

Rest in peace, Kobe.

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