The true legacy of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant

(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
(Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic) /
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Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

2. Personal growth

No matter what we think at the time, nobody is a finished product at age 17 or 18, or even at 21 or 22. We all continue to mature as we get older. And Lakers fans watched Kobe Bryant mature right in front of their own eyes both on and off the basketball court.

Yes, he made mistakes along the way. His feud with Shaq can be attributed to arrogance and stubbornness on both sides. Bryant also clashed with other teammates through the years who refused to see things his way.

Off the court, none of us will ever know with certainty just what happened in that hotel room in Colorado. But at the very least Kobe admitted, and felt deeply ashamed, that he committed adultery.

These actions serve to demonstrate some very human sides of Bryant. Virtually all of us have regrets about things we have done over the years, especially when we were younger. But few of us have made those mistakes in public under the watchful eye of thousands of fans and a media thirsty to tell a lurid story.

Yet we were also able to witness Kobe’s personal growth. As his career progressed he became a better, more likable teammate and even a team leader. He helped motivate his Lakers team to win two more NBA titles long after Shaq was gone.

Without a doubt, he became a better husband and family man. There is no question that he was devoted to his daughters, especially once he retired from the demands and travel of the NBA.

Although Kobe was determined to carve out enormous post-basketball success, which he had already begun to achieve, he still made sure he spent valuable time with his family. And part of what he was just starting to accomplish involved communicating with and teaching young people through various types of media how to succeed in this world in their chosen field.

Most experts agree that Kobe is among the 10 best players in NBA history, perhaps even top 5. And it was his success at his craft that created his mammoth international popularity. But what he was beginning to achieve after he left his sport behind was, in the big picture, even more, admirable and gave people even greater cause to celebrate Bryant’s life.