It seems like a decade since Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash. It is difficult to believe that it is only the beginning of this crazy year that we lost a legend of basketball. In the six months that have passed much has been written to memorialise the man and his life. We fully understand what we lost. However, in the process of grief, there comes a time when the overwhelming shock and pain leave and you can reflect on what we gained because he lived. So, here we focus on the inspiration that Kobe Bryant left behind that we can use to help us live our best lives.

Greatness comes with work

Michael Jordan once noted that Bryant had a work ethic to match his own and that his talent did not happen by accident. Jordan’s work ethic was legendary. So, such a comment from the great man is powerful. 

A Team USA coach recounted a now well-known tale of when the team were training together in Vegas. He spotted Bryant working out and offered help whenever the player wanted some specific conditioning work. Bryant called in a few days later at 4.45 am, asking him to come to the gym. The duo worked out for 45 minutes and the coach went back to bed. Did Bryant go to bed? No, he went to the court and shot until way into the morning. He refused to leave the hoop until he had made 800 hoops.

If you think he was blessed with talent and therefore lived a lucky life – go think again. If you want to strive at the elite level that Bryant played at, you have to be willing to stand for hours drilling your shots.

He committed 100%

The man lived his values on and off the court. There are obviously a thousand stories of Bryant demonstrating insane levels of commitment on the basketball court. However, what about when he was out of his comfort zone? Did he show the same level of commitment? Well, billionaire Chris Sacca tells the story of the time that Kobe Bryant ask for a meeting to discuss business ideas.

Before he would meet with Bryant, Sacca gave him a massive amount of reading and other material about investing. The only way he would meet with the basketball player is if he did the homework. Believing that the amount of work he set would let the star down easy, Sacca was not prepared for the phone calls and text messages from Kobe looking to clarify an idea or to explore a concept further. It got to the point that Sacca’s wife joked that he must be having an affair with the man. Sacca was persuaded that Bryant has a unique personality type that was present in only the best entrepreneurs.

You might think that Kobe Bryant could walk into any business with his star power. However, he understood that he would need to learn to get a start-up off the ground and committed 100% to the learning required. Would you be willing to make yourself vulnerable to someone by making it clear you didn’t understand and need help to make something clear?

He was a nice guy but not a pushover

NBA basketball player Bryant Kobe of Los Angeles Lakers smiles during a promotional event at a store in Guangzhou.
plavevski /

Everyone you meet will make it clear what a gentleman Bryant was. Of course, everyone says nice things about someone when they die tragically. Historically people speak of Bryant as being kind and supportive. However, you did not want to mess with him on the court. There is the story of a USA teammate who got knocked on his butt by Bryant. Kobe claimed that the player needed to learn to show more strength in the game, something this player had been criticised about in the regular season. Kobe made it clear that everyone knows that he doesn’t play when he is looking to win a championship.

His competitiveness was extreme. Celestand speaks at length about the time he went to war with Bryant to be the player to get to training first. However, even when Bryant injured his wrist, he still made it to practice first – shooting with his left hand. 

Obviously, you can learn the importance of competitiveness from this story. But what about the anecdote told by Jay Williams. He went to train in the gym and Bryant was intent on training for longer than him. Mindless competitiveness? Is this an ego gone mad? No, he said to Williams that he had inspired him to do better by being willing to work hard. He made Bryant want to prove that he was prepared to work even harder. So, even when beating someone’s ass in the gym – he did it with a positive attitude – so still the nice guy after all.

He was focused on the science

Shaq and Kobe together on the court together will always be the greatest the Lakers will be. Together they brought home three championships together. Shaq accepted that other greats like LeBron were as good as Kobe Bryant – and had the same killer instinct. However, he felt that Kobe would be a better shot because he worked out the science behind the shot and drilled physically and visually his work with the ball. Therefore, he was a man who demanded a full understanding of the game.

What can we take from this? How can we use this to help us be better? Well, we can have a talent that will naturally give us a headstart. However, we cannot rely on this being good enough. If we want to be the best, we need to understand our talent inside out, so we can make the most of the skills we possess.