The legacy of the man, the shoe and the jersey
Illustration by Michael Pantaleon.
Kobe Bryant was a father, husband, coach, philanthropist, and professional athlete, an individual whose life was in the public eye since he was a teenager. Bryant’s work ethic on- and-off the court inspired the motto “Mamba Mentality,” which as Bryant described, “to constantly try to be the best version of yourself.”
“Mamba Week” began on Aug. 23, which is a celebration of Bryant’s life, on what would have been his 42nd birthday.
Nike had stopped selling Kobe Bryant products out of respect for his untimely passing. The NBA Hall of Famer died after a fatal helicopter crash, along with daughter Gianna Bryant and seven other passengers, in Calabasas, en route to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California.
The accident received worldwide news coverage since most individuals could find a common connection of how tragic the accident was.
“Mamba Week” marked the return of Nike products being sold for the first time since the Black Mamba’s death in January.
On Aug. 23 and Aug. 24, Nike released the “Big Stage” and “5x Champ” Kobe V Protro Sneaker, which were the sneaker models Bryant wore during his fifth and final championship with the Los Angeles Lakers. A “Black Mamba” jersey, with No. 8 in the front and No. 24 in the back, was also released to celebrate the two numbers he made famous in L.A.
The sneakers retailed for $180, whereas the jersey retailed for $120. All items sold out within minutes, and appeared on the resale secondary market at a much larger cost.
Before the January accident, a pair of the “Chaos” Kobe V Protro could be obtained with little hassle. But, after the incident, the sneakers rose to $412 in a size 10 during this time, after being initially released for $175 at retail.
Resale sites like eBay and StockX removed Kobe products from being resold on their sites at the time of his death, like Nike.
This looks to be the bleak future for any fan wanting to buy most Kobe memorabilia.
After Bryant’s death, many of his older sneakers went up in value, because of the quantity available to the public. But now, there are some fans that want to own something of the late player to remember him by, and there are others that are using the opportunity to profit off Kobe’s death.
Bryant was not a perfect person, nor did he have a perfect life, but he continued “to try and be the best version of himself.”
Bryant had a very public sexual assault case in the summer of 2003, where the charges were dismissed. Despite three championships together, Kobe and Hall of Fame teammate Shaquille O’Neal had a public feud that resulted in O’Neal being traded to the Miami Heat in the summer of 2004.
In December 2011, Bryant’s longtime wife, Vanessa, filed for divorce after multiple alleged infidelities.
Vanessa had stayed with Bryant throughout it all, since initially meeting in 1999, and through the very turbulent sexual assault case.
The pair reconciled in 2013 and were together until his death. Bryant had a strained relationship with his father, former NBA player Joe Bryant, and mother Pamela. His parents didn’t approve of the marriage because Bryant is Black, and Vanessa is Hispanic.
On Aug. 23, Vanessa shared an emotional, heartfelt message for her late husband’s birthday on Instagram. A part of the message read:
“I’m mad I didn’t go first. I always wanted to go first so that I selfishly didn’t have to feel this heartache. You were supposed to miss me. Gigi was supposed to be here with her sisters. It should’ve been me.”
After Bryant’s retirement in 2016, he was seen in the public more as a family man. He was a “Girl Dad” and publicly showed love for all his daughters. Bryant began to coach Gigi’s basketball team.
They became a fixture at NBA games this past season, seeing multiple games around the country. Bryant became an advocate for women’s basketball and wanted women to have the same respect that their male counterparts received. He took Gigi under his wing, teaching her the game he fell in love with, and helped make him a global icon.
Gigi, at 13-years-old, was showing flashes of potentially being a future superstar in the WNBA.
Kobe has had a lot of memorable moments in his illustrious career. Maybe, one of the most touching moments was the speech he gave after scoring 60 points in his final game of his career back in 2016. In the speech he says:
“My family, to my family, thank you guys for all your sacrifices. All the time I spend in the gym and training, Vanessa holding down the family like the way you have, Vanessa I can’t thank you enough, there is no way I can thank you enough for that. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.What can I say, Mamba out!”
Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa, and his daughters, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri.