June 9, 2023

Kobe Bryant always had this look throughout his legendary career. This look was centered around what he coined as the Mamba Mentality. This mentality, which some can argue as being an unorganized religion, required you to work harder than everyone else in the room and be relentless at all times in order to accomplish the ultimate goal. Mamba Mentality served Kobe well, as he won multiple championships, secured multiple ALL-NBA teams and All Star appearances and won two NBA Finals MVP’s and one regular season MVP. And oh, he dropped 81 points in one game.

But Kobe also had another look. An equally intense look that resided outside of the Staples Center basketball arena.

As a father of two amazingly dope daughters, I know the look. I saw the look in Kobe’s eyes. Every father who has a baby girl knows “the look.” It’s the look that every father with a daughter (or daughters) gets when they come to realization that girls are just as dope as boys. That girls can be doper than boys. That girls carry legacies just as well as boys. That girls can carry legacies better than boys.

I saw that look in Kobe’s eyes. This was a look that let me know he wanted to be an ambassador for women’s basketball. To be part of a movement that brought much needed attention to women’s basketball and much needed coverage to women’s basketball, as American professional basketball was FINALLY starting to invest in women’s basketball by rightfully awarding WNBA players a pay raise and essential benefits for women employees, such as child care.

It’s sad that baby girl had to go, too.

Kobe’s passion for basketball was passed to his daughter, Gianna “GiGi” Maria Onore, and GiGi took in every word, paid attention to every lesson and soaked in every bit of knowledge her father bestowed upon her. Basketball was embedded in her DNA, in her blood, and GiGi embraced her destiny. Kobe knew this. And I know Kobe knew this, because the look in his eyes told me that he knew his legacy would be just fine with GiGi. And that she would go on to create her own legacy.

A legacy that could’ve been doper than his.

I saw that shit.

And when I saw that, I recognized it, because I know it. I live it. I have that same glow, that same energy when I see Harper’s passion and intensity in her eyes, or when I see Harlow’s kindness and sensitivity in her eyes. My baby girls drive me to be a better person. Their eyes, eyes full of life, are free from the horrors of patriarchy they will undoubtedly have to face one day. Those eyes drive me obtain as much knowledge and as many resources as I possibly can, so I can pass down my knowledge and resources to them. So they can become better than me. So they can rise above whatever dogmatic station society wishes to assign them. So they can strive for the endless immensities of the sea. Strive to not only carry my legacy, but form their own legacy. A bigger and brighter legacy.

A bigger and brighter Mamba Mentality.

Kobe’s second act, through the prism of his baby girls, looked just as promising, if not more promising than his first act. He had already won an Oscar for his love letter to the game of basketball, entitled “Dear Basketball,” and was dabbling in writing, business ventures and philanthropy. But what seemed most important, to him, was coaching GiGi’s basketball team. That’s right, one of the greatest NBA players of all time and recent Oscar winner was coaching, teaching and instructing a group of 13 year old girls the game of basketball. Because that’s what mattered most to him. More than any accolade; more than any MVP; more than any gold statute. There he was, passing down his knowledge of a game that shows all the respect and praise to its male participants, but rarely shines much deserved light on its female players.

In a perfect world, no man should come to appreciate women thriving in fields and arenas women have traditionally been shut out of because they have daughters. And maybe Kobe still would’ve chose to intimately pass down his Mamba Mentality to young girls, even if he had all boys, but he was blessed with girls. He was blessed with dope ass girls who taught him that even one of the most male dominated professions can be played by dope ass girls. You just have to give these dope ass girls a chance. You just have to give these dope ass girls that Mamba Mentality.

Admittedly, Kobe and GiGi’s death hurt, even a year later. And it hurts even more when you think about what could’ve been. Because I know what that look meant. I know Kobe and baby girl were cooking up something special.

And it was going to be black girl magical..

Leslie McLemore writes about a lot of different shit for Black With No Chaser. He is also the Takeaway Kang and is the father of two beautiful girls, one of which gets on every nerve he has. The other one is sweet. So, you know, balance. 

Follow him on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram.

1 thought on “Baby Girl Wanted To Be Just Like Him

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