Austin Prince/Nevada Sagebrush

Nevada men’s basketball players honored Kobe Bryant prior to the start of their game versus San Jose State. The shirts the team wore prior to the game honored Bryant and also celebrated Black History Month.

The sports community is still coping with the sudden death of five-time NBA champion, Kobe Bryant. 

Bryant was killed along with nine others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. on Jan 26.

The victims included Bryant’s daughter Gianna, two of her Mamba Academy teammates, parents John and Keri Altobelli and Sarah Chester, assistant basketball coach Christina Mauser and the pilot, Ara Zobayan.

As details start emerging about what happened that day, basketball fans are remembering Bryant the only way they can—with ‘Mamba Mentality’.

Bryant’s passing may have happened a few weeks ago now, but the impact is still being felt. To some, his passing is still surreal. When the news first broke, many didn’t believe it at first.

Leslie Sweeney, a Truckee Meadows Community College student and lifelong fan of Bryant’s, was at work when he saw the news.

“I was relaxing in the office on my phone, and when I saw it I thought it was a joke. I found out it was real and I literally cried,” Sweeny said. “He’s one of the best of all time, because it wasn’t just basketball. He tried to understand every sport and he gave back to his community. He even coached players in high school and young kids as well.” 

The news came as a shock to many. Bryant’s impact on the game was felt by the league and world over. You didn’t need to be a Lakers fan to appreciate Bryant’s skill. 

University of Nevada, Reno student and Celtics fan, Paolo Buenaventura, was one of those people.

“I was scrolling through my Twitter feed when I saw something about RIP Kobe…I started watching basketball in 2008 when the Celtics-Lakers rivalry was happening,” Buenaventura said. “Kobe was always the guy I didn’t want to get the ball. He became a villain that I always admired. I highly respected the man but hated when he would play against the Celtics.”

What made Bryant such a fierce competitor wasn’t just his on the court skills. It was his ‘Mamba Mentality.’ ‘Mamba Mentality’ is what Bryant referred to as his work ethic.  Bryant even wrote a book about it titled “The Mamba Mentality – How I Play.” 

This type of drive is what brought a fan to his side, including Buenaventura.

“He supported the hustle and challenged anyone who is willing to work at their craft. Arguably the greatest player to ever compete,” Buenaventura said. “We lost a man who respected the game to its full extent. Kobe was a mentor and an inspiration to all of us.”

Personal note

As a Los Angeles native and a lifetime Lakers fan, I have been struggling to accept that he is gone.

I found out when a friend sent me the news, and I didn’t believe it. I thought it was a hoax. I contacted my parents, who are also Lakers fans, and after lots of verifying and debating, they informed me it was true.

Kobe was my childhood hero. I grew up watching him play against other great teams and players in the NBA. His drive and determination were inspiring to me and I was so excited to see what he had planned to do in his retirement. 

This tragedy should be a reminder to hold loved ones close, because no one ever knows when they will be taken away.

A public memorial for Bryant and his daughter will be held at the Staples Center on Feb. 24.

As the world mourns the loss of these nine lives, they will be remembered for the amazing things they accomplished while they were with us.

The sports world will never be the same without them.

Editor’s note: Opinions expressed in The Nevada Sagebrush are solely those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of The Sagebrush or its staff. Madeleine Chinery is a student at the University of Nevada and studies journalism. She can be reached at rfreeberg@sagebrush.unr.ed and on Twitter @SagebrushSports.

Madeleine Chinery can be reached at or on Twitter @SagebrushSports.