The Legacy of Kobe Bryant at Alabama

Sports Illustrated

Joey Blackwell

Former Los Angeles Lakers star and NBA legend Kobe Bryant passed away in a helicopter crash Sunday afternoon. He was 41.

Bryant's daughter, Gianna, 13, also perished in the crash, along with seven other people. The duo were on their way to a travel basketball game.

The report has been confirmed by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Bryant is survived by his wife Vanessa, 37, and three daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, who is less than a year old.

Bryant will go down in history as one of the greatest to ever play the game and leaves behind a lasting legacy in not just basketball, but sports in general. His impact on his sport will leave an impact on the NBA that will reverberate through sports for decades to come.

While Bryant's impact on basketball will certainly not fade from memory any time soon, he also had a legacy in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

On Aug. 9 of 2018, Bryant came and spoke to the Alabama football team on the topics of leadership and being a good teammate for the greater good of the team as a whole.

In his speech to the football team, Bryant said the following:

“To be an effective leader, you have to be a really good listener and not to what’s being said but to what’s not being said. You have to be really observant. That was a big transition for me. I went from being a scorer and a floor general to now — with Pau [Gasol] and Lamar [Odom] trying to win other championships — to being a leader, and that meant putting others first. That means not worrying about, are you in rhythm? Are you playing well in this game. Are you ready to go? To being, are they ready? What can I do to help them be ready? Right?

“That’s the big transition to me. You’ve got to observe them, because they all have things they want to accomplish as individuals. And as a leader, you’re like, ‘Ok, what are those things, and how can I help them accomplish that within the system and structure that we are trying to do collectively?'”

You can view a video of Bryant and his conversation with Alabama head coach Nick Saban, posted on Vimeo by Alabama Football.

Following the news of Bryant's death, Alabama football released a statement from Saban:

"The world lost a truly special person today," Saban wrote. "Our hearts go out to Kobe's family, friends and all who loved him as both a basketball player and a person. Kobe was one of the greatest to ever play the game, but what truly separated him was his competitive spirit and unmatched work ethic. When Kobe spoke to our team, he talked about how he went to work knowing perfect was unattainable but put everything into closing the gap on perfect every day. This is an unbelievably sad day. He leaves a tremendous legacy for all who knew and loved him."

In addition to the football team, Bryant had an impact on many college basketball players across the NCAA. Following the news of his death, many current and former Alabama players and coaches took to social media to express their sorrow.

Basketball head coach Nate Oats:

Junior guard John Petty, Jr.:

Sophomore guard Kira Lewis, Jr.:

Redshirt-freshman forward Javian Davis:

While Bryant's time spent in Tuscaloosa was brief, he had a great impact on those around him. He made the most of his platform and touched the lives of many people, not just athletes. Bryant believed in the process of continuous improvement and developing oneself to become the best that one can be, and his influence will continue to shine on in the days, months and years to come.

During his 20-year span as a shooting guard with the Lakers, Bryant won five NBA titles and was named the NBA Finals MVP twice.