As the world continues to come to grip with the unexpected death of former professional basketball star Kobe Bryant, Savannah State University basketball player Marcus Scott V recalls meeting the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native about eight years ago.
On January 26, 2020, Bryant, along with his daughter Gigi and seven others, died in helicopter crash about 30 miles from Los Angeles, California. Bryant was 41.
Scott said that back in 2012 he attended the Kobe Academy Basketball Camp that was held in Los Angeles. He added that he was able to get a basketball that was autographed by Bryant as well as get his picture taken with the 6-foot-6 hoop star along with his lifelong friend Russell Dandy.
“I got the chance to get a picture with Kobe while he was walking through the gyms looking at the campers. I saw him and quickly asked for a picture and then he smiled and said yes and took it. I did not ask Kobe for advice in particular at that moment but Kobe did talk to the campers as a whole on many subjects,” said Scott. “The subject that I love and remember the most was that he talked about the Mamba Mentality and I always try to pursue that in my life not only just in basketball,” he went on to add.
Scott said that Bryant left an impact on him to go hard in everything at life, not just basketball. “To focus more specially on basketball, Kobe impacted me by allowing myself to never get on the court and take it for granted. Kobe displayed enormous passion during the camp and this impacted me to do the same when I am dealing with basketball.”
When the Hinesville, Georgia native heard about Bryant’s death, he immediately did not think it was true. “I instantly thought it was fake news. I immediately did research and found out that it was true. I literally sat and stared at the wall for about ten minutes and thought about life and basketball. I cried for a little bit as well but once I got done I thought to myself what would Kobe want me to do even though he doesn’t know me personally. It came to my mind to go to the gym and get up shots.”
Scott said soon after, he texted one of his teammates and they agreed to go to the gym right away and shoot at least 500 shots. He felt by going to the gym was his only way to cope with this.
The day following Bryant’s death, SSU had a home basketball game against Paine College in Tiger Arena. Both teams played tribute to Bryant before the game. The shot clock was set to 24 seconds and both teams agreed to take the 24-second shot clock violation.
During the Tigers 81-57 win over Paine, Scott led the Tigers in scoring with 25 points as he made six of nine shots from beyond the arc.
“I finished with 25 points which symbolizes 24 for Kobe Bryant and one extra point for his daughter Gigi who also died with him.”
Bryant scored a career high 81 points in 2006 against the Toronto Raptors. Ironically, Savannah State’s women’s and men’s teams both scored 81 points in victories over Paine on January 27, 2020.