Kobe Bean Bryant, the black mamba, does he need any introduction?
A killer on the basketball court. The Fiercest Competitor that the NBA has ever seen.
Five-time NBA champ and an individual who inspired millions of people with this famous 'Mamba Mentality.'
For many of us, including myself, Kobe was my childhood hero growing up.
Kobe Bryant's NBA resume is undoubtedly impressive, but what really got me admiring about Kobe was his kindness and respect for others regardless of his mega-star status.
I wanted to pay tribute to this Lakers legend and share some of the most incredible stories about Kobe that show us the human inside of the Black Mamba.
Kobe was a humble, down-to-earth human being
Kobe loved doing one thing more than anything else in his retirement: spending time with his family. They went to Disneyland many times, and this story was no different.
James Jacobs was texting his father that he saw the Lakers legend Kobe Bryant at work, and out of nowhere, he heard some random voice asking him if it was okay for him to sit down. James looked up, and it wasn't any other person but his childhood idol - Kobe Bryant!
James recalls that it was a hectic and hot day. Kobe had retreated to the backstage area of one of the rides while his family went on, dumbfounded that one of the biggest celebrities in LA was just chilling beside him. It took a few minutes for James to muster up enough courage to talk with his childhood star.
After the superstar said hi, James soon found out that he was one of the most down-to-earth people he's ever met. Asking him how he could score 60 points in his final game with the whole world watching his retirement match.
They also talked about their mutual interests, even about Kobe sneakers.
They had a great bonding experience.
As James remembers, what struck him most about the conversation was that Kobe wasn't just another star. He listened to him thoroughly, maintained excellent eye contact, and made James feel like he was talking to a friend.
James ran into Kobe again while working a shift at the parade control booth a few months later. This time, when he said hello to Kobe.
Kobe was like oh hey James, how's it going, Jacob? Jacob recalled that there was no way Kobe saw his name tag, but when he asked Kobe if he remembered him, Kobe replied, "Yeah, we talked behind Splash Mountain."
Kobe had a kind heart
The next story involves Tim Thymes Jr., a freelance photographer who was present at one of Kobe's practice sessions.
Although Tim was working, he had another motive. He wanted to record Kobe talking and providing support for his mom, who was diagnosed with cancer.
It took Tim 30 minutes to figure out how he would approach his childhood idol, which dominated his bedroom walls with posters. Finally, after being able to muster up the courage and approaching Kobe Bryant for a picture but couldn't garner the courage to ask for a recording.
Kobe, however, happily agreed to the picture that Tim asked for and also became interested in Tim's career.
Kobe encouraged Tim to keep following his passion. Simple words, but it had a massive impact on Tim.
Months later, Tim had a chance to speak with Kobe again. Tim was given an opportunity for an interview with Kobe.
When his childhood idol finally walked into the room, Tim reintroduced himself.
He would have an unforgettable moment there when he told him that
he had met him several months before.
Kobe responded, "oh yeah, you were doing freelance stuff at USC."
In the ensuing few weeks, Tim was able to work closely with Kobe, and the two had somewhat built a rapport together by then.
Tim felt it was an appropriate time to tell Kobe what was happening at home with his mom, and he asked for a recording for her - without hesitation, Kobe happily agreed.
Kobe extends his helping hand
The night Kobe passed away, Kristen Hecht shared a post on social media about her memory of the five-time champ.
Kristen worked at a hospital in Phoenix. One day, a pediatric cardiologist in her hospital asked her if she could somehow get an autograph from the Lakers legend for a dying little boy who happened to have been named 'Kobe' too!
Kristen's husband had connections in the Pheonix Suns, and he tried to get in touch with Kobe.
When he contacted Kobe, he agreed to the autograph and promptly decided to come down himself and spend some time with that dying little boy.
Kobe met with Kristen, and they went into little Kobe's room. He gave him a gift; little Kobe's face lit up when he saw the superstar. Laughing and smiling, the two Kobes played, passing a ball back and forth. After it was time for Kobe Bryant to leave, he said something that Kristen would never forget.
Kobe turned to her and asked If anything could be done to save the child's life. He said that he was willing to spend any amount of money to save the child.
Unfortunately, little Kobe was too ill for a transplant and passed away three weeks later.
After a month since the little boy passed away, Kristen received a letter from little Kobe's mom that described how happy he had been during those moments with Kobe Bryant. The photos showed how glad he was when little Kobe was able to meet his superstar and spend a day with him.
It's still heartbreaking to think and come to terms that Kobe Bryant is no longer with us.
It's truly unfortunate that we won't be able to see the big things that Kobe could have done with his kindness and generosity, but I hope his life lessons and impact will continue to live through us by our actions, and we can keep sharing the goodness that he shared with us.