Mamba knows best.
Kobe Bryant’s legacy lives on in the year since the basketball icon’s untimely death.
As Tuesday marks the anniversary of the tragic helicopter crash that claimed the lives of Bryant, 41, his daughter Gianna, 13, and seven others, the retired Los Angeles Lakers star’s words of wisdom continue to transcend time.
“You got to do what you love to do,” encouraged Bryant during his final sit-down interview with USA Today — just days before his fatal crash in California on Jan. 26.
“I love telling stories,” the five-time NBA champion, endearingly nicknamed Black Mamba, said. “I love inspiring kids or providing them with tools that are going to help them.”
Forever in our hearts as No. 24, check out a roster of Mamba’s most memorable quotes:
On achieving a tranquil mind
In a 2013 ESPN interview, Bryant was told he seemed different — he seemed calm.
“Because I am. That’s just the maturation. That’s 17 years of seeing everything the game can dish out. I’ve seen it all before. There’s no need to get too crazy or bent out of shape. There are still challenges every day. But I’m still having fun. I was born to play this game. I still love it.”
On work ethic
“I can’t relate to lazy people,” Bryant once said of his work ethic. “We don’t speak the same language. I don’t understand you. I don’t want to understand you.”
On the next generation
“I remain focused on changing the world in positive ways through diverse stories, characters and leadership in order to inspire the next generation,” Bryant said in 2018, after receiving the Academy Award for best animated short “Dear Basketball.”
“It’s an understanding that you can’t have life without death, can’t have light without the dark, right? So it’s an acceptance of that,” the pro-baller mused during an interview with The Ringer in 2016.
From a 2015 profile in GQ: “I have ‘like minds.’ You know, I’ve been fortunate to play in Los Angeles, where there are a lot of people like me. Actors. Musicians. Businessmen. Obsessives. People who feel like God put them on earth to do whatever it is that they do. Now, do we have time to build great relationships? Do we have time to build great friendships? No. Do we have time to socialize and to hang out aimlessly? No. Do we want to do that? No. We want to work. I enjoy working.”
In a 2008 interview, he spoke to his positive attitude. “Have a good time. Life is too short to get bogged down and be discouraged. You have to keep moving. You have to keep going. Put one foot in front of the other, smile and just keep on rolling.”
On the impossibility of perfection
In the same GQ profile, Bryant was asked whether the qualities that make him great are also problems.
“Oh, yeah. But the things that make a person average are also problems. The things that make someone not good at anything at all are a problem. If you want to be the greatest of all time at something, there’s going to be a negative side to that. If you want to be a high school principal, that’s fine, too — but that will also carry negative baggage.”
On preparing for surgery
He captioned a 2017 Instagram post: “Be sad. Be mad. Be frustrated. Scream. Cry. Sulk. When you wake up you will think it was just a nightmare only to realize it’s all too real. You will be angry and wish for the day back, the game back THAT play back. But reality gives nothing back and nor should you.”
On making sacrifices for a dream
In Showtime and CBS Sports’ 2015 documentary “Kobe Bryant’s Muse,” he reflected: “We all can be masters at our craft, but you have to make a choice. What I mean by that is, there are inherent sacrifices that come along with that. Family time, hanging out with friends, being a great friend, being a great son, nephew, whatever the case may be. There are sacrifices that come along with making that decision.”
In “Muse,” he also said: “When we are saying this cannot be accomplished, this cannot be done, then we are short-changing ourselves. My brain, it cannot process failure. It will not process failure. Because if I have to sit there and face myself and tell myself, ‘You’re a failure,’ I think that is worse, that is almost worse than death.”