Looking at Leadership: Kobe Bryant, Mentorship and Legacy

As parents (and as mentors to others) we can often find teachable moments appearing when we least expect them.

On Sunday, January 26, 2020, I experienced one of these teachable moments during a somber time that as a sports fan and parent to a young athlete, I had not anticipated.

Like many, after the news of NBA great Kobe Bryant (41) and his young daughter Gianna (13), hit the airwaves, I found myself searching through the websites of sports and cable news outlets for confirmation and information. And like so many around the world, I was heart-broken to learn that the reports of their passing in a fatal helicopter crash, along with others whose loved ones are now mourning their tragic loss, was indeed true.

During my internet search, I was immediately struck by Bryant’s last Twitter post (1.25.20), acknowledging NBA living legend LeBron James.

On Saturday, James became the third highest scorer in NBA history with 33,655 points, behind only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone. Bryant’s tally sits at 33,643 points and with a running lay-up in the third quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday, James moved past that figure (Calum Trenaman-CNN).

It was in that final Tweet from Bryant, acknowledging this historic moment and passing of the baton to James, that I began looking at leadership, while talking with our young athlete and scholar.

I shared during this solemn moment, how the now final Tweet and public expression from the NBA phenomenon, exemplifies how each of us can mentor and lead by example as we encourage others to continue our legacy.

In a few short words, Bryant acknowledged the greatness of another.

He applauded the passing of the baton and the continuing of his legacy, as all mentors should strive to do.

He offered young athletes around the world yet another example of how to lead from the sidelines with positivity, selflessness and with grace.

During the coming days and weeks ahead, parents, coaches and mentors to young people will have similar conversations. My hope is that they too, will encourage others to start Looking at Leadership and consider how they can be the example of mentorship; passing the torch and continuing the legacy.

Dr. Jalin B. Johnson

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