Most of us know the late Kobe Bryant as a Los Angeles Lakers legend and an NBA icon. In a city full of stars, Kobe was the guy. L.A. was his city, and we got the unfortunate confirmation of that through all the murals painted around The City of Angles once Kobe, Gianna, and the other passengers went to join the angels in the sky. Former two-division world boxing champion Zab Judah shared a story that explains why.
Mamba in the hood
While his mantra, “Mamba Mentality” epitomizes exceptional hard work, Bryant also knew how to lay back a bit and spend some time with his friends. Among them was Judah.
Boxing and basketball are two completely different sports, so most people were unaware that Kobe and Judah were pals. The connection between the two was only revealed during a rare interview shortly after Bryant’s tragic death, where Judah recounted the time he and the NBA superstar randomly took a ride to an LA hood.
According to Judah, most athletes of “their caliber” don’t have that humility anymore and wouldn’t dare to hang in the hood with him. But Kobe was different. He was always down.
“Last time I’ve seen him we were down at South Beach. We kicked it like the good ol’ days. He always had good spirit,” Judah said of Bryant. “I’m always in the hood and in the places that a lot of celebrities in my caliber don’t go but Kobe was like ‘What’s up? Let’s pull up!’”
Like many of us, Judah was devastated by the passing of his old friend. He knows how it feels to come an inch close to death when he incurred severe brain damage from boxing. Having that experience, he had a simple message for his friend.
“See you on the other side when it’s my time,” he said.
Another testimony of Kobe’s humility
Like Judah, hip-hop legend and LA native Snoop Dogg is also a man who never forgets his humble beginnings in the hood and is now paying it forward by helping many up-and-coming rap artists.
When talking about his friendship with Kobe after his death, Snoop also recalled an instance when he was surprised by how humble Bryant was.
“I am like a little kid right now thinking about it, like, that was the greatest moment. Like he was so hospitable to everybody at my building. I am talking from the people who take the trash out to the rappers, everybody! They all left there saying that this is a great guy and I am happy I met him in real life… That’s my guy.”
Judah and Snoop’s memories of Kobe prove that we did lose not only one of the greatest basketball players of all time but also a man with a humble and kind heart.