NATHAN RIVAS WRITES – The tragic death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant has devastated his strong fan base throughout several regions of Asia.
Billboards and monuments have been erected throughout Los Angeles that memorialize Kobe’s legacy as a prolific athlete and humanitarian, but his hometown is not alone in mourning his legacy.
Just as Kobe was loved throughout the United States, he was loved in several regions of Asia. His was the best-selling jersey in China even years after his retirement and he had the largest following of any basketball player on Weibo. Within hours of his death, in addition to becoming the most searched topic on Weibo, #ripKobe became a trending hashtag on TikTok, another Chinese based social media platform.
In Kobe’s last post on Weibo, the star wished his Chinese fans a happy lunar new year. “I wish you happiness, health, and inner magic to achieve more success in the upcoming year of the mouse,” the video said. This became the most-shared video following the news of his tragic death as fans memorialized their hero in the comment section.
Several Chinese diplomats and professional athletes also used social media platforms to venerate the legend. Yi Jianlian, who currently leads the Chinese Basketball Association in all-time points scored, said the following of Kobe: “We both suffered a fractured finger. I rested for a month and a half, and [he] did not rest for a single day. Since then I learned from [him] what persistence meant.”
Kizo Hisamoto, the mayor of Kobe, noted that Kobe Bryant had visited the Kobe government office in 1998 to make a donation for the city and was given the title of “Kobe Ambassador” from 2001 to 2011. “We have always felt a closeness to him,” said Hisamoto. “It is so sad and we offer our deepest condolences.”
The President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, offered strikingly personal condolences on twitter: “My thoughts go out to the Bryant family & the families of all those who lost loved ones today. Kobe inspired a generation of young Taiwanese basketball players, & his legacy will live on through those who loved him.” Among the victims of the accident were baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and their basketball-playing daughter Alyssa; mother and daughter Sarah and Payton Chester; Mamba Academy basketball coach Christina Mauser; and pilot Ara Zobayan.
The large-scale devastation that has swept across the world as a result of Kobe’s death is a reflection of his excellence in all areas of life, on and off the basketball court. Having influenced generations of athletes, scholars, and young people from around the world, his legacy lives on.