The death of the sports legend and seven others leaves mark

By Thomas Samuel

Franklin College student athletes are mourning the death of one of the greatest legends in American basketball. 

Former NBA All-Star and Lakers Player Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Jan. 26. He died alongside his daughter Gianna, 13, and seven other passengers. There were no survivors.

In the weeks since his death, student athletes and coaches at Franklin College have reflected on his legacy and impact on their lives. 

Jenna Cowart, a women’s basketball player, was on her work break at Main and Madison Market Café when she heard the news from her best friend. She said she was in a state of denial but soon felt a sense of sadness and disbelief. She knew a lot of people who looked up to Bryant growing up and she felt like the impact would affect them more than her.

“When I found out he died, I checked on all of my guy friends to make sure they were okay,” said Cowart.

“A lot of the guys were huge fans and look up to him,” Brian Lebowitz, Franklin College men’s associate head basketball coach, said about the team. 

He says that as a coach he will make sure to be there for his team and use it as a reminder that the game can always be taken away from you and to make the most of the opportunities that you are given in life.

“I saw all of the hard work Kobe put in and applied it to my game to get where I am today,” said Borden Kennedy, the starting point guard for the Grizzlies. 

Kennedy watched Bryant growing up and specifically remembers the 2008 NBA Finals against the Celtics. He considers Bryant an inspiration for his hard-working mentality.

Bryant was known for his “mamba mentality” — a relentless pursuit of greatness with no excuses for not achieving it.

The passing of such a great legend may even impact the way students here at Franklin are taught in the classroom.

Kim Eiler, a former women's basketball coach here at Franklin who teaches a class on diversity and inclusion in sports, said her class is even more important in the wake of Bryant’s death because it will help people to realize and appreciate what people do for diversity. [MOU1] 

Eiler said she plans to use Bryant as an example role model for not only sports, but as an example for being a good person away from the sport. She expressed a great deal of admiration for his commitment to not just being a dad, but a girl dad. Bryant is said to have been most proud of being a girl dad despite all of his achievements on the court. In a conversation with an ESPN reporter, Kobe said, “I would have five more girls if I could, I’m a girl dad!” Eiler feels as if this is important and shows that Kobe is the type of man she hopes to help her students become through her class.




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