Zachary Helms, a manager for the Wayne State College Wildcats basketball team, walked into the locker room after practice on a gloomy Monday, Jan. 27. Everybody had cleared out except one player. The senior shooting guard and team captain sat on the bench with his head in his hands. He looked upset. Just one name had to be spoken.
“Kobe?” Helms said.
The player looked up, the sweat and tears combining on his face, and he nodded. He had always been a really positive person. He usually laughed and joked around with his teammates, but the accident the day prior had changed it all.
“The death of Kobe Bryant had a big impact on the attitude of a lot of our players,” Helms said.
The Wayne State College basketball team rallied together around the death of Bryant. Many players put sayings like “R.I.P. Kobe” on their shoes and got in contact with the opponents of the next game to each take a clock violation as a moment to remember Bryant and his impact on the game of basketball. According to Helms, the Wildcats coaching staff strives to instill Bryant’s work ethic and competitive spirit, which many call the “Mamba Mentality” into the players’ game.
“It really hurt me on the inside,” Zachary Helms said on the death of NBA star, Kobe Bryant.
Bryant became a major influence on most of the world. Many players looked up to his work ethic, and his confidence could not easily be replicated. He was a role model to the younger generation of basketball players. The Wildcat players, and players around the world had followed Bryant’s story and grew to love his game. His impact reached so much further than just the game of basketball. His work ethic reached out to competitors in any sport, and his work off the court as a family man and a “girl dad” had those who didn’t even follow athletics grieving for his loss.
“I had never played basketball or even followed the sport, but I know what a huge loss this is for the whole world. He influenced so many,” Matthew Wegener, an engineering student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said.
Wegener played very few competitive sports in his life, but he worked as a strong member of the debate, speech, and one act teams at his high school on top of being a perfect 4.0 student.
“I had always heard about the work ethic that Kobe Bryant had and I realized that it applied to so much more than just basketball,” Wegener said.
Wegener served as a prime example to show that Bryant’s impact reached so much further than just the sport of basketball. Wegener would apply this same work ethic inside and outside of the classroom to continue to be a Dean’s List student at UNL.
“He was a great basketball player, but more importantly he was a good father and loved his family. I can’t even imagine what they are going through right now,” Jodi Borgmann said.
Borgmann, a mother of four from Arlington, Nebraska, sat in a cozy room with pictures of her children hanging on the wall. In each frame sat a picture of her kids playing basketballーfrom her oldest playing college basketball at Nebraska Wesleyan University to her youngest girl playing on the Arlington Middle School team.
The Bryant family had not only lost a husband and father on the day of the helicopter crash, but a daughter and sister as well in Gianna. “A lot of people are broken up about Kobe, which they should be. I am too. What breaks my heart more is that his daughter was clutched in his arms when the crash happened” Borgmann said. As a mother of a family of basketball players, Borgmann saw the impact the accident had on her children.
The accident left a lot of people in mourning, but the important thing to take away from the accident is that life is short and that this can happen to anybody. Bryant’s impact reached so many and his role in the basketball world as well as his role as a family man are all things that people have looked at and learned from. Nevertheless, the accident has many feeling the same way.
“My second oldest, Jackson, always looked up to Kobe and I know that his death has him hurting, and that makes me hurt,” Borgmann said.