Kobe Bryant believed in overcoming his fears to become the greatest person he could be.
Kobe Bryant was a legendary basketball player, completing 20 seasons in the NBA and winning five NBA world championships with the Los Angeles Lakers before his retirement in 2016. Known to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time, he often went by his self-given nickname “Black Mamba” on the court, which, to him, reminded him of who he wanted to be when he stepped into each game. In a 2015 interview with Ahmad Rashad, Bryant explained, “When I step on that court, I become [Black Mamba]. I am that killer snake. I’m stone cold, man.”
Sadly, on the morning of January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant — along with his 13-year old daughter Gianna (Gigi) and seven other victims — lost their lives in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.
Kobe Bryant was born with a love and passion for sports — especially basketball. His father, Joe Bryant, had his own success in the NBA until 1983, and continued to coach professional basketball ever since, so Kobe Bryant started learning the sport when he was just three years old. After playing soccer for most of his childhood in Italy, he fully embraced the game of basketball when he moved back to the United States during his high school years — he soon earned national recognition, becoming the second youngest NBA player in history as he joined the Los Angeles Lakers.
Often compared to the likes of Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant got the chance to prove his talents through his 20-season career with the Lakers, earning the title of Most Valuable Player in the NBA in 2008, becoming an 18-time NBA All-Star and a member of the All-NBA Team 15 times.
Not only was Kobe Bryant an unstoppable basketball player, but he also made a name for himself excelling in business and becoming a successful venture capitalist. He lent his name to sports industry brands and invested millions of dollars in the technology and media industries, including a sizable investment in BodyArmor that paid off well after Coca-Cola purchased a minority investment in 2014.
Kobe Bryant raised four daughters with his wife, Vanessa — 17-year-old Natalia Diamante, 13-year-old Gianna Maria-Onore, 3-year-old Bianka Bella and Capri Kobe Bryant, who was born just last June.
According to an Instagram post dedicated to his wife, Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Bryant celebrated their 18th wedding anniversary just last year.
Over his career, Kobe Bryant gave advice to his fans and talked about the best ways to overcome fears and achieve success. In remembrance of one of the greatest basketball players of all time, look through our collection below of the best Kobe Bryant quotes about life, love for the game and how to face fears head-on.
1. Kobe Bryant’s view on how to deal with negativity.
“Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.” — Kobe Bryant
2. On working hard for his dreams.
“Dedication sees dreams come true.” — Kobe Bryant
3. Why he created the “Black Mamba” nickname for himself.
“I had to organize things. So I created the ‘Black Mamba’. So Kobe has to deal with these issues, all the personal challenges. The Black Mamba steps on the court and does what he does. I’m destroying everybody that steps on the court.” — Kobe Bryant
4. When defending his style of play to the critics.
“I’ve shot too much from the time I was 8 years old. But ‘too much’ is a matter of perspective. Some people thought Mozart had too many notes in his compositions. Let me put it this way: I entertain people who say I shoot too much. I find it very interesting. Going back to Mozart, he responded to critics by saying there were neither too many notes or too few. There were as many as necessary.” — Kobe Bryant
5. On picking himself up and getting stronger.
“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.” — Kobe Bryant
6. Kobe Bryant didn’t believe in making excuses.
“Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses.” — Kobe Bryant
7. On being born to play sports.
“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.” — Kobe Bryant
8. Kobe Bryant’s views on life.
“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.” — Kobe Bryant
9. After celebrating the inaugural season of Mamba League in 2019.
“Love that kids are building confidence on and off the court and unlocking their potential through sport.” — Kobe Bryant
10. On overcoming failures.
“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 are a failure,’ I think that is almost worse than dying.” — Kobe Bryant
11. On being humble and being a team player.
“There’s been a lot of talk of me being a one-man show but that’s simply not the case. We win games when I score 40 points and we’ve won when I score 10.” — Kobe Bryant
12. On encouraging his teammates.
“The important thing is that your teammates have to know you’re pulling for them and you really want them to be successful.” — Kobe Bryant
13. On believing in himself and making a choice to be great.
“When you make a choice and say, ‘Come hell or high water, I am going to be this,’ then you should not be surprised when you are that. It should not be something that is intoxicating or out of character because you have seen this moment for so long that … when that moment comes, of course it is here because it has been here the whole time, because it has been [in your mind] the whole time.” — Kobe Bryant
14. On embracing his retirement from the NBA in 2016.
“I see the beauty in getting up in the morning and being in pain because I know all the hard work that it took to get to this point. So, I’m not, I’m not sad about [retiring]. I’m very appreciative of what I’ve had.
15. On chasing success.
“Once you know what failure feels like, determination chases success.” — Kobe Bryant
16. Kobe Bryant wanted nothing more than to be the greatest version of himself.
“I don’t want to be the next Michael Jordan, I only want to be Kobe Bryant.” — Kobe Bryant
17. On being a role model.
“The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great at whatever they want to do.” — Kobe Bryant
18. He believed in never giving up.
“The moment you give up, is the moment you let someone else win” — Kobe Bryant
19. Kobe Bryant relied on his family for support.
“My parents are my backbone. Still are. They’re the only group that will support you if you score zero or you score 40.” — Kobe Bryant
20. On being a team player.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to win games, whether it’s sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate, or hitting the game-winning shot.” — Kobe Bryant
21. On being in the right state of mind and never feeling intimidated.
“The last time I was intimidated was when I was 6 years old in karate class. I was an orange belt and the instructor ordered me to fight a black belt who was a couple years older and a lot bigger. I was scared s–less. I mean, I was terrified and he kicked my ass. But then I realized he didn’t kick my ass as bad as I thought he was going to and that there was nothing really to be afraid of. That was around the time I realized that intimidation didn’t really exist if you’re in the right frame of mind.” — Kobe Bryant
22. On what it’s like to coach his daughter’s club basketball team.
“The beauty of coaching is growing the players from the ground up. That journey continues.” — Kobe Bryant
23. Kobe Bryant knew how to overcome his self-doubt.
“I have self-doubt. I have insecurity. I have fear of failure. I have nights when I show up at the arena and I’m like, ‘My back hurts, my feet hurt, my knees hurt. I don’t have it. I just want to chill.’ We all have self-doubt. You don’t deny it, but you also don’t capitulate to it. You embrace it.” — Kobe Bryant
24. On knowing the game.
“These young guys are playing checkers. I’m out there playing chess.” — Kobe Bryant
25. On what it takes to master his craft.
“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.” — Kobe Bryant
26. Kobe Bryant didn’t believe in “almosts”.
“Winning takes precedence over all. There’s no gray area. No almosts.” — Kobe Bryant
27. On always looking to the future and not dwelling on the past.
“This is the moment I accept the most challenging times will always be behind me and in front of me.” — Kobe Bryant
28. He believed in careful reflection.
“I’m reflective only in the sense that I learn to move forward. I reflect with a purpose.” — Kobe Bryant
29. On believing in and trusting himself.
“I’m extremely willful to win, and I respond to challenges. It’s not a challenge to me to win the scoring title, because I know I can.” — Kobe Bryant
30. A loving birthday message to his wife, Vanessa Bryant, on Instagram in 2019.
“You are like fine wine baby ti amo per sempre.” — Kobe Bryant
31. Kobe Bryant knew that talent could create beauty — even in sports.
“The beauty in being blessed with talent is rising above doubters to create a beautiful moment.” — Kobe Bryant
32. On never being afraid.
“If you’re afraid to fail, then you’re probably going to fail.” — Kobe Bryant
33. On what it takes to be a leader.
“A lot of leaders fail because they don’t have the bravery to touch that nerve or strike that chord.” — Kobe Bryant
34. On what it takes to be a true leader.
“Leadership is lonely … I’m not going to be afraid of confrontation to get us to where we need to go.” — Kobe Bryant
35. About staying on course toward achieving his goals.
“I create my own path. It was straight and narrow. I looked at it this way: you were either in my way, or out of it.” — Kobe Bryant
36. On overcoming pain.
“Pain doesn’t tell you when you ought to stop. Pain is the little voice in your head that tries to hold you back because it knows if you continue you will change.” — Kobe Bryant
37. Kobe Bryant knew how rid his life of the people that held him back.
“The most important thing is you must put everybody on notice that you’re here and you are for real.” — Kobe Bryant
38. On using his influence to do good and make a difference in the world.
“Use your success, wealth and influence to put them in the best position to realize their own dreams and find their true purpose.” — Kobe Bryant
39. On holding people accountable.
“There’s a big misconception where people thinking winning or success comes from everybody putting their arms around each other and singing kumbaya and patting them on the back when they mess up, and that’s just not reality. If you are going to be a leader, you are not going to please everybody. You have to hold people accountable. Even if you have that moment of being uncomfortable.” — Kobe Bryant
40. On not wanting to be normal.
“We can always kind of be average and do what’s normal. I’m not in this to do what’s normal.” — Kobe Bryant
41. On doing things the right way.
“Trust me, setting things up right from the beginning will avoid a ton of tears and heartache…” — Kobe Bryant
42. On pursuing his dream to be the best in the NBA.
“I want to learn how to become the best basketball player in the world. And if I’m going to learn that, I gotta learn from the best. Kids go to school to be doctors or lawyers, so forth and so on and that’s where they study. My place to study is from the best.” — Kobe Bryant
43. On scoring 81 points in a game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006.
“Not even in my dreams. That was something that just happened. It’s tough to explain. It’s just one of those things.” — Kobe Bryant
44. Kobe Bryant’s thoughts about recovery.
“I want to see if I can. I don’t know if I can. I want to find out. I want to see. I’m going to do what I always do: I’m going to break it down to its smallest form, smallest detail, and go after it. Day by day, one day at a time.” — Kobe Bryant
45. On facing his rival, Shaquille O’Neal, in 2010.
“I got one more than Shaq. So you can take that to the bank.” — Kobe Bryant
46. On facing his biggest challengers in the NBA.
“When I have the chance to guard Michael Jordan, I want to guard him. I want him. It’s the ultimate challenge.” — Kobe Bryant
47. On making the best of his haters.
“Haters are a good problem to have. Nobody hates the good ones. They hate the great ones.” — Kobe Bryant
48. Kobe Bryant knew never to fear failure.
“There’s nothing truly to be afraid of, when you think about it … Because I’ve failed before, and I woke up the next morning, and I’m OK. People say bad things about you in the paper on Monday, and then on Wednesday, you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. I’ve seen that cycle, so why would I be nervous about it happening?” — Kobe Bryant
49. On being born to play basketball.
“I never looked at [basketball] as work. I didn’t realize it was work until my first year in the NBA. When I came around, I was surrounded by other professionals and I thought basketball was going to be everything to them and it wasn’t. And I was like, ‘This is different.’ I thought everybody was so obsessive about the game like me. It was like, no? Oh, that’s hard work. I get it now.” — Kobe Bryant
50. His beliefs on how to live life to the fullest.
“It’s the one thing you can control. You are responsible for how people remember you—or don’t. So don’t take it lightly.” — Kobe Bryant