CLEVELAND — During his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe Bryant made the kind of impact that was not just measured in championships, a multitude of individual awards or by being a top-five scorer in NBA history.
Bryant inspired not only a generation of NBA players, but also, athletes in other sports, including Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, who took to Twitter Sunday in the moments following news of Bryant’s passing to remember the future Hall of Famer.
“Kobe, you were my idol…period,” Mayfield wrote. “Mentality through and through. Thank you.
“To your family, I wish y’all nothing but the very best. Prayers and thoughts with you don’t begin to describe what we want for y’all. Love and respect to #8 & #24 forever. #MambaMentality #Mamba.”
Several of Mayfield’s teammates joined him on social media in paying tribute to Bryant, who along with his 13-year old daughter, Gianna, were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California Sunday.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady also tweeted about the sports world’s loss.
Bryant retired from the NBA following the 2015-2016 season, and last month, was named a candidate for election into the National Basketball Hall of Fame.
In 20 seasons with the Lakers, Bryant scored 33,643 points, pulled down 7,047 rebounds, handed out 6,306 assists, converted 44.7 percent of his 26,200 shots from the field and knocked down 1,827 three-pointers.
More than the numbers, Bryant’s success can be measured by the five championship teams he was a part of and the tireless work ethic and competitiveness, both on and off the court that led him to leave the game as the No. 3 scorer in league history.
Bryant left the game as a two-time NBA Finals MVP, the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player, an 18-time NBA All-Star, four-time NBA All-Star Game MVP, was selected to the All-NBA First Team 11 times and the NBA All-Defensive First Team on nine occasions.
Bryant was a two-time NBA scoring champion and winner of the NBA Slam Dunk Contest in 1997.
Bryant’s jerseys, 8 and 24, hold their rightful place in Lakers history, as banners bearing his name and numbers was raised to the rafters at Staples Center in Los Angeles in 2017.