In the most sickening turn of events possible, the world has lost one of the most iconic figures in sports history. Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant died Sunday in a helicopter crash, an event which we'll likely need decades to properly evaluate and reckon with.
Words can't even begin to describe the the tragic magnitude of the loss of Bryant. A basketball legend in every sense of the phrase, his impact on and off of the court was simply immeasurable.
But perhaps his most enduring legacy was his sheer power of will. Even though he was taken from us far too soon, he will forever be remembered by sports fans of all ages and all walks of life as the perfect competitor.
Bryant's work ethic was simply unparalleled. He spent his time tirelessly looking for ways looking to improve his game, and his "Mamba Mentality" set the tone for future generations of basketball players. If anyone wants to reach his level of greatness, then it will take blood, sweat and sacrifice.
A five-time NBA Champion and 18-time All-Star, Bryant was everything that anyone could ever ask for, as a player and as a father, growing seamlessly into that role after encountering controversy in his earlier years, battling sexual assault charges.
As his career picked up, he constantly pushed himself and the players around him (including his daughter, Gianna) to strive to be the best versions of themselves.
His demand to be great is exactly why he was great. He was the one to put in the extra work, to give that extra push, to take that extra shot. He showed us all just what it means to be the player your opponent is afraid to face.
In his post-playing career, he was as brilliant as ever. An Academy Award winner and youth coach, Bryant carried his passion for the game into other aspects of his life. It showed in his advocacy for the involvement of women in basketball, and it most definitely showed in how he raised his four daughters.
And that's just how he should be remembered: a competitor in every way, shape and form.
He always strove to be the best at whatever it was he was doing. He was an iconic player, a fantastic leader, and a loving father and husband. That's his legacy.
Rest in peace, Mamba.