January 26 will mark the two-year anniversary since NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his teenage daughter, Gianna, and seven other people were tragically killed in a helicopter crash in Southern California that left no survivors. Bryant's death sent a shockwave across the world -- particularly in Los Angeles, which was his home for two decades as a member of the Lakers.
Countless athletes, celebrities, and sports fans have paid tribute to Bryant in some form or fashion over the past two years. And just recently, Philadelphia sports columnist Mike Sielski published a biography called, "The Rise: Kobe Bryant and the Pursuit of Immortality," which tells the NBA icon's origin story.
"You're talking about a kid born with this incredible drive, understanding deep within himself who he wanted to be. He wanted to be the greatest basketball player in the world," Sielski told the Maggie and Perloff show on Wednesday. "He was committed at the earliest possible age to doing that. But he also had the benefit of some circumstances that allowed him to become that person...
"To a large degree, Kobe saw himself on a mission to redeem his family's good name, when it came to basketball. His dad was talented, and was kind of bitter he hadn't gotten the chance in the NBA that he felt he deserved... Kobe took that all in and said, 'I'm going to restore the Bryant name to royalty in basketball. That's part of my mission.' At least it was when he was young."
Bryant, who was a dynamic 6-foot-6 swingman from the Philadelphia suburbs, joined the NBA out of high school, back in 1996. At the age of 18, he became the youngest player in league history. And in 20 total seasons with the Lakers, Bryant won five championships, two NBA Finals MVP awards, and one regular season MVP award. He also ranks fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
The entire Kobe Bryant conversation between Sielski and Maggie and Perloff can be accessed in the audio player above.