Kobe Bryant was always known as one of the most intense athletes in sports history during his 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.
However, the intensity — which was once viewed negatively — eventually shifted to become ‘Mamba Mentality,’ a mantra that is as prevalent in sports as Bryant himself. Following Bryant’s shocking and tragic death along with his daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others, a number of players including Lou Williams told their stories.
Every player has some slight differences in what Mamba Mentality means to them but in all these cases, the idea of hard work and win at all costs remain true. This is what makes Williams’ story about Bryant’s intensity so relatable and so comedic in a time where positive memories of him are in such high demand.
Williams spoke about a time when after a blowout loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, Bryant took the entire team’s Kobe shoes, via Twitter:
We got blew out in Portland. He took everybody Kobe’s and said they couldn’t wear it cause we was soft ????????
— Lou Williams (@TeamLou23) January 28, 2020
Despite the hilarity of this story, Williams also found it difficult to hold back the emotion, saying that every time he can muster up a positive and funny memory, it only brings him to tears again:
Been crying on and off. Have a random thought about things we spoke about then laugh. Cry again. Then I tell myself tighten up, mamba was tough. Wipe my eyes. Cry again RIPKOBE
— Lou Williams (@TeamLou23) January 27, 2020
While heartbreaking given the circumstances, Williams’ story is exactly what people need right now. Bryant is one of the most prolific and larger than life athletes of all time and yet he still managed to make a personal impact on so many lives — even if it was while he was taking shoes and calling his teammates soft.
That’s just who Bryant was and even at the end of his career when he struggled to stay healthy and his teams had no chance of competing for championships, his Mamba Mentality still remained.