Underdog Story of the Day - Kobe Bryant
Kobe was born in 1978 in Philadelphia but spent much of his early childhood in Italy where his dad pursued his professional basketball career. His father's lifestyle fascinated Kobe to the point where he would follow his father around to games and practices, inspired to become just like him.
The family returned to Philadelphia for Kobe's high school years. He dominated at Lower Merion high school, earning himself the national attention from the basketball community. He entered the NBA draft straight from high school and at the time, he was only the second player to make the jump from high school to the NBA, alongside Kevin Garnett.
The Charlotte Hornets selected Kobe 13th overall in the 1996 draft, but there was a trade that had been previously set to send the 13th pick to the Lakers, where Kobe would sign a three-year $3.5 million contract.
We see Kobe for all his successes but he always thanked his failures for his successes. He was notorious for his take on failures.
"If you're afraid to fail, then you're probably going to fail."
He always used his failures to drive success.
Making the most of failure
In 1997, at 18 years old, his teammates relied on him in the final moments of a must-win playoff game against the Utah Jazz. He proceeded to shoot four airballs and the Lakers lost in overtime 98-93. That feeling soaked deep inside of him. The legendary story continues the next day when he reportedly went to a local basketball court and shot from sun up to sundown, literally all day.
He dedicated that off-season to mastering his shot so he never had the hopeless feeling of losing a crucial game for his teammates again. In his 20 year career, Kobe had 36 game-winning shots, and his last game-winning shot ironically came against the Utah Jazz.
After his stint with Shaq, dominating the league, most often wondered if Kobe could lead the Lakers to a final without Shaq. In 2008, post-Shaq, Kobe earned his first and only regular-season MVP award and brought the Lakers to their first NBA Finals appearance since Shaq. This final was against their rivals, the Boston Celtics. The Lakers were leading in a crucial game in the series by 24 points. The Celtics ended up winning 97-91, and the Lakers lost the series in six games.
In the series clincher against the Celtics, "Don't Stop Believing" played in the arena to celebrate a four-decade NBA Championship drought. Kobe later said, “I hated that song for two years. I listened to that song every day just to remind me of that feeling.”
Proving people wrong
Kobe went on to lead the Lakers to back-to-back NBA Championships, one of them coming in a seven-game series win against the Celtics.
Kobe is the fourth highest scorer in NBA history but not without a price to pay. He also holds the record for the most missed shots. This statistic turns us back to his famous quote, "if you're afraid to fail, then you're probably going to fail."
Kobe was never afraid to fail and with that mindset, he won five NBA titles, a record 18 straight All-Star Game selections and four All-Star Game MVP Awards.
His net worth was estimated at $600 million.
WATCH: Kobe Bryant talks about his mindset in this inspirational speech
Kobe's story can be a model for all to follow. He proved if you make giving up not an option, you can reach your dream. It's not about the failures that you amass over time, its how you respond to those failures. His stats show us you need to fail to succeed. He was the fourth-highest scorer in NBA history but he also holds the record for most shots missed. Don't be afraid to fail. And if you're failing right now in pursuit of your dreams, just know that success is around the corner as long as you don't give up.
This article is dedicated to Kobe Bryant (d. January 26th, 2020)
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