The Black Mamba and grit. The two go hand in hand.

The life and legacy of the 6-foot-6-inch guard doesn’t just begin and end on the basketball court, however — it’s much more than that. It’s his inspiration and toughness as a fearless competitor on the hardwood that led to the impact he had on others’ lives. Bryant is the perfect example of how one man can inspire millions based on the manner in which he lived his life and the wise words he left behind. It was never all talk with Bryant — in fact, it was almost always the opposite. That’s what he will continue to teach us.

The definition of grit starts with failure. Bryant wouldn’t be the same man without failure. Kobe had his fair share of failures in his young adult life, from the sexual assault case that saw him plead guilty before settling for more than 2.5 million. Or his struggles in his first-ever conference finals in the playoffs, where he shot four airballs down the stretch against the Utah Jazz in game five. 

Kobe wasn’t perfect and he wasn’t afraid to admit it.  In fact, Bryant took pride in missing the most shots in NBA history by more than a thousand. And yet, in forgiving fashion, he made sure that what many would consider “failures” did not define him. 

Throughout those tough times, Bryant continued his life with that same mentality.  “I play to figure things out, I play to learn something. If you play with a fear of failure, I think it’s a weakness,” said Bryant. “Failure doesn’t exist. It’s a figment of your imagination. [The only way you can fail] is if you decide to not progress.”

That’s what Bryant did each day. He proved it after his playing days ended and dedicated all his time to his wife and daughters. 

“Everything I’ve learned from the game of basketball carried it over to life. Basketball has helped me be a better person, friend and father,” said Bryant. “There’s life lessons within the game like communication, unselfishness, attention to detail, empathy, compassion, all those things are in the game. As an athlete, if we are aware of those things it can help us become better human beings.”

As his career went on, Bryant’s impact grew greater. This was because of the birth of the Mamba Mentality. Mamba Mentality lessons are made for everyone, not just those under the bright lights on the court. 

“The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do,” said Bryant.

The biggest take away from the life of Kobe Bean Bryant is simple: every single person has the potential to be great but not every person has what it takes to be great. It all circles back to grit. Kobe didn’t become successful overnight; he worked for everything he accomplished. He did the time and put in the work to be great in every aspect of his life. He wanted to be great but he also knew what it took to be great and he wasn’t going to let anyone get in his way.

That’s the legacy I will remember and you should, too. Don’t be afraid to reach your full potential. What is there to fear but fear itself? That’s why his words strike home in every heart — they are brutally honest. He speaks to the core of every human being and that’s the reason why his impact is immeasurable. He inspires me to be better each and every day. The Mamba Mentality will forever live on through the lives of others. His spirit will never fade or leave us. Now you can rest, Mamba. So please do, knowing that your purpose on this earth is still being lived out even though you are gone.