As I sit in my at-home office at 3:38 AM on Jan. 26, 2021, I’ve been struggling to find something to write about. Kobe Bryant passed exactly one year ago today, and I wanted to write a grand story that would captivate all of my readers.
I worked on that ‘grand’ story for two days, up to a few minutes before I started to draft this piece. I deleted the story because I wasn’t feeling what I was writing, and Kobe Bean Bryant deserves the best work out of me.
After I gave up on my initial story, the first thing I could do was open up Kobe’s book, Mamba Mentality, How I Play. As I started reading it for the third time, a section resonated with me the most. Call me selfish, but I find it fitting to stray away from the norm and talk a little about how the book’s section most impacted me. Thinking about it, Kobe would’ve wanted to know how much he impacted that 23-year-old reporter that was star-struck and kept bugging him in his last appearance in the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
“When it came to basketball, I had no fear.”
That’s the chapter and one of the sections in his book that I’m referring to. In this section, Bryant mentioned that from the beginning, he wanted to be the best. He had a constant craving, a yearning to improve and be the best. He added that he never needed external forces to motivate him.
Bryant also mentioned that he’d try it immediately if he saw something that he wanted to implement into his game. He wasn’t scared of missing, looking bad, or being embarrassed. He added that he was laser-focused on the long game, not the short term effects of what he was doing.
Growing up, I was always self-conscious of other people’s opinions. I’m not going to lie. I didn’t start to change that thought process until I met my wife at 22 years old. It felt as if I was constantly conflicted because I had a similar mindset as Kobe: wanting to separate myself as a reporter and be unapologetically unique but didn’t have the courage to take that leap and suffer the consequences of doing so.
My thought process changed when I was 22, not only because I met my wife, but because reality hit that playing the sport of basketball wasn’t in my future, and I needed to hone in on the other thing that I loved, journalism. That’s when I started to adopt his mentality in my career, while in the past, I only adopted it to my game.
Even then, I felt like I was in a tug-of-war with myself. I wanted to be different from the average journalist, and I wanted to express my creative mind beyond the scope of stereotypical journalism. Still, I also wanted to be treated like and welcomed by other journalists, which after college, I wasn’t and still am not four years later.
Within the last three years, I’ve realized that I’m not the stereotypical journalist. I started this website to cover sports, fashion, and a wide range of cultural topics that revolve around sports. I know that I’ve missed out on plenty of opportunities because of the route that I’ve taken, but I know the rewards will supersede any of those things I’ve missed out on.
Thanks to Kobe, and after some internal battles with my mental, I have no fear when it comes to my profession.
“My midnight workouts have become a thing of legend.”
The other section within this chapter that I found relatable was Kobe talking about balancing his time: putting in more work than the average NBA player while still committing to being a family man.
“When my kids woke up in the morning, I was there, and they wouldn’t even know that I had just finished at the gym. At night, I’d be able to put them to bed, then go work out again during my own time, not theirs.”
God hasn’t blessed me with children yet. Still, I’m definitely not the 22-year-old bachelor that lives by himself, with the biggest concern being whether or not I’d travel to Stillwater, OK, to see my girlfriend or if she was coming to Oklahoma City to see me.
My average day consisted of me going to class in the morning, the gym in the early afternoon, then parking myself on the couch from 4 PM to 3 AM, writing, designing, and creating various forms of content with no obligations or cares in the world.
That has changed over the last few years. My girlfriend moved in with me after college, we got engaged, and today she’s my wife. Just like Kobe stated in the book: that comes with sacrifice.
As I read this section, I sat in disbelief and even started laughing because Bryant’s mindset towards this situation was the same as mine.
“I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my game, but I also wasn’t willing to sacrifice my family time. So I decided to sacrifice my sleep.”
He couldn’t have said it better. I’m not open to sacrificing what I’ve worked so hard for throughout my 20s, but I’m damn sure not going to allow my marriage to hit the fan because I was too obsessed with my career. So, like Kobe and evidenced by tonight, I sacrifice my sleep and deal with the next day later. I haven’t gotten the waking up early thing down yet, but I’m sure that’ll come as I continue to close in on 30.
No matter what it takes, I’ve promised myself that I won’t stop until God tells me to stop when it comes to my business and my profession. I also won’t break the promise I made to God and my wife to be a solid husband, so I have to do what I have to do…just like Kobe.
There’s so much more to write, but the time is now 6:22 AM, and functioning through the day is a must. My goal with this piece is to provide some insight for the next generation, showing that you can incorporate Kobe Bryant’s Mamba mentality into whatever you decide to do for the rest of your life. It’s not only a mindset that’s exclusive to basketball players or athletes. It’s a [mindset] that was created by a basketball player.
As I grow older, I understand my favorite athlete of all-time even more. I understand him more as a man and not just star-struck by his NBA skill and stature in society. This testimonial and reflection was for you, Kobe. You inspired not only athletes but this journalist as well.
Rest in Peace.