A Year After His Death, Kobe Bryant's Impact Has Never Been Greater

A year after his death, Kobe Bryant's unique on-court presence remains an everlasting inspiration.

We’re all different people throughout our lives. This was especially true for Kobe Bryant. A year after his death you think back on his career and in the mind’s eye he is equally that young, brash kid as he was the sage, stoic icon.

One thing that remained throughout his career was his confidence. If he dominated on the court thanks to thousands of hours of reps in the gym, he excelled because of his singular mind.

The dude was just wired differently.

A year after his tragic death, a lot is being written. Even more is being remembered. I’m sure you have your own favorite Mamba moment. For me, it’s the bookends that show the true mettle of his mentality.

Coming in as the then youngest player to ever step foot on an NBA court, Bryant was scoreless against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov. 3, 1995.

His lone shot attempt was blocked by Cherokee Parks. His single rebound an uncontested bounce off the rim straight into his arms.

It was a humbling first foray into what would be a storied career. And it was just one of a million motivational moments from which to learn.

As Byron Scott explained later in the same season, “he’s going to be unbelievable. I see him every day in practice.”

This 18-year-old phenom had certainly impressed a 14-year vet. And it’s because for all of his early faults in basketball, Bryant was wise enough to know there is a direct correlation between the hours you put into your work and the success you get out of it.

“I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success,” Bryant once said. “Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses.”

He had his on-court hardships. But he would shoot through them. It’s what made him such a polarizing figure among the pantheon of greats.

His talent was maddening and undeniable. His drive to score and win was unrelenting. And it’s what made him so easy to root for.

You knew he would never take a play off. And you knew he would shoot through the difficulties. Pure unbridled joy was a hot streak away. "The moment you give up, is the moment you let someone else win,” he famously opined.

The bookend of his career came on April 13, 2016. A meaningless regular season game that saw the lackluster Lakers play against the 40-win Utah Jazz.

Bryant started the game going 5-13 from the floor and 1-5 from behind the arc. If there was an emotional farewell, it was going to be relegated to his send-off speech. By the end of the first quarter, it was clear that there would be no final Kobe heroics.

At least, that’s what it felt like initially. Bryant, however, pushed through, shot past the passage of time. He was going to will himself to one more epic bow to a sold-out Staples Center.

The dude was just wired differently.

It meant dropping 60 points on the Jazz, turning a Lakers crowd that understood the inevitable into a raucous environment befitting the greatest of Game 7s.

It was the only way Bryant was going to walk off, without a doubt as to his heart and drive. He was motivation incarnate.

It’s been a year since his tragic death. But his legacy continues to compel so many who knew him and watched him play.

Kobe Bryant remains a beacon of not just success but the epitome of what it takes to garner that success.