Every young girl wants to follow in her father’s footsteps. That dream was no different for Gianna Bryant. Her father, Kobe Bryant, former NBA MVP, was a legend in the world of basketball who wore a size 14 shoe—shoes that didn’t seem impossible for Gianna to fill.
The phrase “mamba mentality” was the key to Kobe Bryant’s success and the legacy he passed down. Gianna Bryant strove to break the barrier between women and men in sports, in order to maintain her father’s legacy. The legacy she left behind was the “mambacita mentality” that girls need in a society where female athletes are not given the recognition they deserve.
She learned how to play basketball when she was nine when her father taught her. When fans and reporters would and ask if Bryant’s dad wanted to have a son to fulfill his legacy, Gianna would simply reply, “I got this. You don’t need no boy for that.” As an 8th grader, she had multiple games with 10 or more steals. Michael Jordan averaged 3.16 steals in his entire career.
Bryant learned how to play basketball when she was nine, and as she fell in love with the game she realized how much harder she had to work. She had to maintain her “mambacita mentality” in order to live up to the promise she made, which meant practicing whenever she could. She was determined to prove to everyone that she could carry on the Bryant legacy on the court just as well as any son could.
Junior Katie Butler said, “Nobody believed me when I said I was going to be a Division I volleyball scholarship athlete, except for me. I knew that I would have to put a lot of hard work into it, but I was prepared for that because of my love for the game. I do not jump the highest, run the fastest, or set the best compared to a lot of people, but I work hard and I strive to be the best I can be.”
Bryant’s commitment to her sport resonates with female athletes who struggle with the idea that gender defines them as an athlete. Sophomore Luciana Latino said, ”Both genders possess athletes with grit, dedication, hard work, and passion for their game. You are not a male athlete or a female athlete, you are just an athlete. Mamba mentality for life.”
An athlete’s greatness is determined by the way they handle adversity, something female athletes do every day. The reality is that female athletes are going to face obstacles, but so will male athletes. Gianna Bryant’s legacy reminds us that being a female doesn’t prevent an athlete from being successful.