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Brittney Etuka

role model
Kobe Bryant is their Michael Jordan.
Today’s young basketball players, including those at Putnam Science Academy, never saw Jordan play. They only know him from old game film.
But Kobe, he’s a different story. He was the face of the NBA for 20 years, from 1996-2016, which spanned many of these players’ lives. Bryant is the guy who inspired them, boys and girls alike. Here are some of the reactions and thoughts to Bryant’s sudden passing Jan. 26 from PSA athletes:
Mekhi Gray: “I was in disbelief after hearing the news. I didn’t want to believe it because Kobe was such a big part in why I played basketball. I followed him from the minute I started playing basketball and still will until the ball stops bouncing for me. As a player his mentality and his determination in the game and practices drove me to improve myself as a player. Growing up I would wear the number 24 no matter what sport I was playing because of Kobe. (It’s) the reason why I will be wearing that number next year in college as well.”
Brittney Etuka: “Crumbling up a piece of paper and shooting it into a garbage can and yelling, ‘Kobe!’ Everyone did that when we were kids. Being from Canada, people think the basketball world is different than it is in America, but it’s not. It’s the same thing. We all grew up watching the same people. A lot of people had the Jordan Era. I was born in the 2000s, so I had the Kobe Era. He’s the person I watched growing up. I started playing basketball wearing No. 24 because I wanted to be like Kobe. Playing with that number and having that Mamba mentality, and knowing that in all types of game situations, good or bad, what would Kobe do in this situation? How would he change the game? How would he impact others? That’s the mindset I go into games with. Regardless of how many minutes I play, big or small, with the Mamba mentality I can always play a big role.”
Niya Fields: “Our whole team was inspired by him. All of us wished we had the Mamba mentality. The news broke to us while watching a movie for team bonding and our whole vibe changed. It hit us hard.
It just reminds us that we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow.”
Victor Reis, soccer player: “Kobe was an influence not just for basketball, but for all sports. He was an example for if you want to achieve your dreams you can go ahead for it. He was an idol for everyone, for every sport.”
Damoni Tucker: “Even if he wasn’t my favorite player, I still looked up to him in certain ways. His mentality was just different than every athlete. When things are hard for me, I look up some of his motivational stuff and it just makes me keep going.”
Jaden Brewington: “I watched a lot of motivational speeches and talks that he gave. I think he had a good mindset, he talks about spending time in the gym. He’s someone who values family. He values work ethic. I think he paved the way for a lot of athletes to work hard every day, no matter how good they get because there is always room to improve.”
Lani Cornfield: “Kobe had an impact on everybody, not just basketball players. He taught everyone a different mentality. He broke down every little thing of the game and made it important.”
Sarah Streete: “He was always happy to see the game progress, especially beyond him. That’s what I appreciated about him.”
Delaney Haines: “On the women’s part of it, he was coaching his daughter, he was always at WNBA games. He championed and supported the women’s game and I really appreciate that about him.”
Zach Boulay: “He brought so many people into basketball, so many people here say they play because they watched Kobe. That’s a great legacy to have.”
Sabou Gueye: “Kobe Bryant was a legend. He inspired me and motivated me. I watched all of his highlights back home in Africa. He inspired me to want to play.”
Hassan Diarra: “The way he approached the game, his motor, his competitiveness, the passion he played with. Every player should have that in him, including myself. It was a tragedy that he died and how he died and that his daughter died too. He was a legend, and the good thing is that legends never die. He lives on.”
Terrell Ard Jr.: “Growing up, you had to do everything like him. You had to do the fadeaway, you had to wear the shoes.”
Zanashia Croft: “He definitely impacted me. He was one of my favorite players. I watched him when I was little and he inspired me to just keep on pushing and to stick with basketball. He inspired me to have the mentality that I can make it to the WNBA or to college. He was such an inspiration. I watched his daughter play too and she was a really good player. It’s all just so sad.”
Julian Dozier: “If you were a part of basketball in any way, shape, or form, Kobe was a part of your life. Kids running around at a young age shooting paper in the trash and yelling, ‘Kobe!’ He was in everyone’s life whether you knew him or not.”
Aaliyah Brittian: “He didn’t want to just be remembered as a great basketball player. He wanted to be an influence on the world. It hurts me more that his daughter is gone because she was going to carry on his legacy.”
Geni Kanyane, soccer player: “We didn’t watch him a whole lot back home in South Africa, but we knew who Kobe Bryant was. We knew about his determination, his work ethic, his passion, his love for his game. That impacts all athletes, all people, not just basketball players.
Ness Williams: “I started playing basketball because of him. I watched him play and I wanted to play like him.”
D’Maurian Williams: “I’ve been saying ‘Kobe!’ since I can remember, just shooting trash in the trash can. He’s an idol to me, I look up to him. He motivates me to play hard. He teaches us that with hard work, anything is possible.”
Max Armstrong: “He was one of the first players I started watching. I loved his attitude, to just go out and win. He was the reason I started playing. He was a winner. That’s what I wanted to do.”
Jawed Belaid: “Kobe Bryant is an example for all players in the world. He is an example for all of us how to work and play with passion and heart. I want to play like Kobe.”
Stephen Nalbandian
Sports Information Director
Putnam Science Academy


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