Kobe Bryant’s death hit a little to close to home

It has been one year since the devastating tragedy of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. The death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter is what some call the start of the curse of the year 2020. Bryant’s death affected so many lives in our country but Bryant’s death hit a little too close to home for the Cabrini community being known as a local legend to many growing up in Philadelphia or the Pennsylvania area where Bryant was from.

Bryant was born in Philadelphia and attended high school at Lower Merion high school only 16 minutes from Cabrini. He was recognized as the top high school basketball player in the U.S. 

For sophomore basketball player Katie Rodriguez, Kobe Bryant was more than just a local legend. He was a part of her family. Rodriguez’s uncle Joe Carbone had the privilege of being Bryant’s personal trainer in high school and then followed Bryant to the NBA. “When I was younger I would spend a lot of time out in California with my cousins and we were able to attend many lakers games,” Rodriguez said. Bryant was also her cousin’s godfather. “A funny part is the last time I saw Bryant was at my cousin’s 18th birthday party only three years ago,” Rodriguez added.

Joe Carbone – Katie Rodriguez’s uncle training Kobe Bryant. Photo credits: unknown

As a basketball player herself, Rodriguez said she considers Bryant as one of her favorite players. Rodriguez said, “Bryant is one of my most favored players. Regardless of knowing him his grit and passion really inspired me to continue playing basketball.” 

Rodriguez has been through many injuries throughout her high school career that resulted in her warming the bench for months and even years at a time. “Bryant had multiple interviews that I would watch and listen to religiously in the gym that kept me going and his words are really moving and inspiring,” Rodriguez said. “Off the court, I struggled mentally with course loads and transition to college and my college coach would always suggest motivational videos and I would always find myself watching Bryants videos because they were just so motivational.” 

Sophomore psychology major Malik Bailey remembers exactly where he was when he found out that Kobe Bryant had passed. “It was right after practice and the whole team was in the locker room. One of my teammates broke the news and the team thought it was a joke, But he proceeded to show us, and then we all proceeded to look it up to find the disheartening news and the whole room was just filled with sadness,” Bailey said.

Of course, Bryant was considered one of Bailey’s favorite players as many players consider him to be but it was not for the obvious reasons of being a hardworking player and his passion for the game. “I did not want to be like Kobe because of his shooting or scoring. I wanted to follow in his footsteps on how hard he worked at his craft,” Bailey added. 

Bryant did not just have an impact on society as a player but also as a person. “ I learned that the ultimate goal in life isn’t a championship but it is to one day have a family. Kobe would not constantly say that because he knew you can have endless championships but you can have one family. This was an eye-opener for me and made me excited to one day have a family for myself,” Bailey added.

Katie Rodriguez with Kobe Bryant when she was a toddler. Photo credits: Katie Rodriguez’s Uncle Joe Carbone