Madsen reflects on Kobe Bryant a year after his death

Former Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020. Illustration by Riley Andersen.

This past week marked the anniversary of the helicopter crash that claimed the lives of former NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven other individuals. 

The incident occurred the morning of Jan. 26, 2020 in Calabasas, California. The group was traveling to a youth basketball game in a nearby town, when for an unknown reason the helicopter they were traveling in went down.

The National Transportation Safety Board is scheduled to release the incident report — including the cause of the accident — on Feb. 9, 2021.

One individual who was impacted by Bryant is Utah Valley men’s basketball head coach Mark Madsen. Madsen played for the Los Angeles Lakers as a teammate of Bryant from 2000-2003 and acted as the Lakers assistant coach from 2013-2019. 

“He was fully committed to doing his personal best and there is something inspirational about that when you see that level of dedication,” Madsen said on The Zac Gelb Show on Tuesday. “Kobe’s knowledge of the game, his respect for the game, and really his passion for winning is something that just sets him so far apart in the world of all professional sports.” 

Many consider Bryant to be one of the greatest basketball players to ever step on the court. His list of accolades includes being a five-time NBA champion, two-time NBA Finals MVP, 18-time NBA All-Star and four-time All-Star Game MVP. 

He retired from the game of basketball in 2016 and began pursuing a career in storytelling — Bryant won an Academy Award in 2018 for his animated short film, “Dear Basketball.” The two-time Olympic gold medalist influenced many future players and inspired those around him.

It seems Bryant’s devotion and dedication to the game have impacted his fans as well. UVU sophomore Brandon Ormsby expressed his appreciation for Bryant, recalling his first memory of seeing him play.

“I remember 15 years ago I sat down to watch a game and witnessed something I believe we will never see again,” Ormsby said. “I saw an 81-point game and I knew that this guy was special and would be one of the greatest ever.” 

Ormsby went on to talk about Bryant’s coined phrase, “mamba mentality,” that extended to all aspects of his life. “He also was a great father and role model after basketball, he kept the mamba mentality going when he didn’t need to.” 

Like so many others, Ormsby was inspired by Bryant’s work ethic and determination. 

“I saw that and wanted that in my life… my new and current goal has been to create my mamba mentality for myself based on my own abilities,” he said.

As many reflect on the life of Kobe Bryant a year after his death, the impact he had on the world around him is still prevalent.

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