Kobe Bryant was a legend: in basketball, in business, and in personal life. He was an NBA athlete and much more. He was proof of how you can influence so many people when you pursue the best version of yourself.
On January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant died in a tragic helicopter accident that killed him and 9 others. In times like this, where tragedy happens in society, we’re reminded of how finite life truly is. At his memorial service, actors, basketball players, singers, major influencers, fans, family, and friends gathered to commemorate his legacy.
He was well-known for being a basketball icon, but when you look even deeper at Kobe Bryant off of the court, there’s a lot you can learn about business and life overall from what he did.
Life is Unpredictable at Times
“Kobe Bryant was in pursuit of the best version of himself”, said Michael Jordan. He was a live demonstration of how we each get the chance to settle or push past obstacles.
In life, you don’t know what will happen next. You might have high hopes and expectations, but there are factors outside of your control that can throw your plans completely off. You can only control what you’re doing right now.
You can do your best to be the best version of yourself by monopolizing your time with good habits, and when you consistently put effort towards being the best version of yourself, it compounds: brick by brick.
You get the opportunity to decide whether:
- to eat healthy or not
- to be honest or not
- to create or consume
- to give or take
- to exercise or not
- to tear people down or encourage them
- to borrow or own
- to invest or look for instant gratification
- to recognize or ignore
There are so many choices you get the opportunity to make on a day-to-day basis, and each one builds on the other to shape your legacy. Kobe Bryant was described as “loving life” and “leaving everything he had on the court”–these are two powerful statements. They show that he was in pursuit of being the best version of himself: personally and professionally.
He was traveling to take his daughter to a basketball academy he’d founded when tragedy struck and his helicopter crashed. Situations like the one surrounding his death can’t be predicted or planned. What’s admirable about Kobe is how he aspired to mastery and how that’s the overarching thing most people remember (even close loved ones like his wife).
We all have limits on what we control. There are things we can put our efforts toward, and situations we can’t know. Of course, we all make mistakes. We all have obstacles that come up, and life can be unpredictable, but it’s how we approach what we can control that makes the biggest difference.
Will you make sure you can say “you left everything you had ‘on the court'”? Regardless of your pursuit, give your best. Aspire to mastery.
Kobe Bryant’s Upbringing and Worldview
Despite all of the news about Kobe and his family recently, interestingly, the headlines aren’t talking much about his childhood or upbringing. Of course, his childhood had to have some impact on his worldview, so lets talk about it a bit…
In my opinion, it’s always interesting to see whether successful people took on worldviews of their parents or if they went a completely different direction that benefited them better.
Kobe Bryant was born in Philadelphia as the youngest child of former NBA player Joe Bryant and Pamela Cox Bryant. He had two older sisters, and he was the only boy. After his dad left the NBA, he moved the family to Italy where he played basketball professionally–this was a great influence for Kobe as a young boy.
Kobe grew up playing basketball and soccer while being raised in Italy. In middle school, he moved from Italy to Philadelphia. By the time he reached high school, he was receiving national recognition for his basketball skills while at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore. He was drafted to the NBA from high school at age 17. In fact, he was so young that his parents had to sign his contract!
His professional basketball career began at age 18 and he retired after 20 years of playing basketball.
When reading about his childhood, it’s clear that he learned work ethic, to develop his skills, and to pursue basketball at a very young age. As he grew to be an adult, the news has shown different times where he went a different way than his parents advised; to pursue what was best for him.
In instances like:
- Choosing his wife
- Handling his belongings
- and Interracial marriage
He clearly went against what his parents wanted, but it demonstrates how we allow our past to have jurisdiction over our futures. You don’t have to allow opinions or things that happened in the past to change the trajectory of your future. You can set boundaries. You can be receptive of what would help you in your pursuit, and you can put limits on advice and interactions that won’t serve you well.
As a result of Kobe’s decision to marry his wife and have a family (despite his family’s opposition to interracial marriage), he experienced 20 years with the woman he loved, and had 4 daughters. Eventually, his family warmed up to his choice.
His choices (including his marriage and others) led to many successes and some failures too. In the press, he was known for a career full of record-breaking activities, but he was also publicly scorned because of a sexual assault charge that plagued his reputation for a long time. Despite his failures, he was able to rebound and have a successful career, family, and business life.
Over the duration of his career, it’s said that Kobe Bryant’s salary was between $1 million (when he started in the NBA) up to $26.8 million when he retired, and this doesn’t include endorsements and sponsorships.
Kobe Bryant’s $1 Billion+ Business Empire (Beyond the Court)
Despite his well-known success in basketball, Kobe Bryant was also a successful businessman. His public presence from his basketball career helped him to build large social followings on several platforms: online and offline. He was well-known internationally, and he was very influential.
He had an income that put him in the top percentages of the world’s income earners, and he used it to live a good life, start several business ventures, and do lots of philanthropic work.
Kobe Bryant’s business endeavors included:
- Co-founding a venture capital firm with web.com’s founder Jeff Stibel called “Bryant-Stibel”
- Securing many endorsement deals and advertising for well-known brands
- Writing a book and becoming a best-selling author
- Coaching other athletes
- Building a music record label
- Building brands: shoes, clothes, etc.
- Offering education scholarships and other charitable gifts
- and, Investing
ESPN said Bryant’s endorsements earned him $16 million+ per year and that wasn’t his only stream of income. He was known as a savvy investor and invested millions of dollars to help build companies. He would find promising startup companies and negotiate equity funding deals where he’d give money in exchange for a percentage in equity of the business.
It’s not noted that Bryant was a big real estate investor. He owned real estate for personal or business use, but fixing and flipping, or managing real estate wasn’t “his thing”. Instead, he was an avid investor into startups; helping entrepreneurs to amplify what they were already doing.
Many of the businesses the Bryant-Stibel firm invested in have become notable brands including the Honest Company, Epic Games, Dell, and Alibaba. His firm has exited some companies and have remained stakeholders in others. As a result, it’s said that his firm now owns $2 billion in assets.
As an investor, he was also passionate about music and the arts. He started a record label and worked to publish books that would inspire others (especially underprivileged youth and athletes)
I know it might not be obvious to some that Kobe had services he was known for, but he had a service-component to his business endeavors as a coach, leader of coaches, speaker, and influencer for brands.
He partnered with Nike to start the Mamba League to give youth access to basketball for free. Later, he also founded Mamba Academy to give lifestyle and athletic training across multiple different sports.
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Kobe as a Businessman
Overall, Kobe is known as a basketball player and is well respected for his influence in the business world. He developed a high income skill of basketball and pursued mastery in ways most people don’t. He demonstrates how financial security and pursuit of mastery can be achieved by applying yourself to your passions in various ways.
My condolences go out to the Kobe Bryant family and all those who are mourning his loss. He left alot for us to be inspired by and to learn from. If you’re putting something on hold, I want this article to push you to take action on your dream or the conviction you feel. Life is unpredictable, so don’t think you have time to take action because you may not.
Learn from Kobe’s example and aspire to be all you can. Identify one bad habit and replace it with a good one. Find one person who needs encouragement and encourage them. Make each moment count.
If you were inspired by Kobe in business or personal life, what stuck out to you? Leave your comments, questions, and feedback in the comments section below.