RIP NBA Superstar Kobe Bryant, Oscar Winner, Philanthropist

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Kobe Bryant, one of the NBA’s all-time superstars, played as a Los Angeles Laker and went on to become an Oscar-winning producer, died this morning in a private helicoper crash in Calabasas, Calif.

Bryant was traveling with others, and authorities said 5 people are confirmed dead. Bryant’s wife, Vanessa, was not among the passengers.

Bryant was an American former professional basketball player. He played his entire 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA. He entered the NBA directly from high school and won five NBA championships. Bryant is an 18-time All-Star, 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, 12-time member of the All-Defensive team and was the NBA’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) in 2008. Widely regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time, he led the NBA in scoring during two seasons, ranks fourth on the league’s all-time regular season scoring and fourth on the all-time postseason scoring list. Bryant is the first guard in NBA history to play at least 20 seasons.

Maybe best remembered from his retirement poem, posted below:

Dear Basketball,

From the moment
I started rolling my dad’s tube socks
And shooting imaginary
Game-winning shots
In the Great Western Forum
I knew one thing was real:

I fell in love with you.

A love so deep I gave you my all —
From my mind & body
To my spirit & soul.

As a six-year-old boy
Deeply in love with you
I never saw the end of the tunnel.
I only saw myself
Running out of one.

And so I ran.
I ran up and down every court
After every loose ball for you.
You asked for my hustle
I gave you my heart
Because it came with so much more.

I played through the sweat and hurt
Not because challenge called me
But because YOU called me.
I did everything for YOU
Because that’s what you do
When someone makes you feel as
Alive as you’ve made me feel.

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream
And I’ll always love you for it.
But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.
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.

And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.

And we both know, no matter what I do next
I’ll always be that kid
With the rolled up socks
Garbage can in the corner
:05 seconds on the clock
Ball in my hands.
5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1

Love you always,
Kobe

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