Kobe Bryant was a fearless force on the basketball court and well known for bringing his competitive spirit in every game he played.
The "mamba mentality," as it was called, worked for him on the court and just before his untimely death, was also working well for him in the business world.
Bryant, who died Sunday in in a helicopter crash that also took the life of his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven other people on board, emerged as a force to be reckoned with in a variety of industries after a successful career in the NBA. He was also a voice on multiple social issues and efforts that were on the way to pushing his career beyond those of many of his NBA peers.
Kobe’s death has stirred up grief across the world. It has also had corporate leaders lamenting the loss of an up-and-coming business mogul.
Bryant, who started investment firm Bryant Stibel in 2013 with web.com founder Jeff Stibel, pushed the idea of a post-sports career into the 21st century. His dealings ranged from media to tech and data companies.
Bryant Stibel for the last 7 years has invested in companies like Dell, Alibaba and Epic Games, the maker of Fortnight.
The 18 All-Star player, who spent part of his childhood in Italy and spoke the language fluently, was also one of the first athletes to realise the value of embracing and utilising a global image. It's something he carried over into his business ventures by pursuing opportunities in China.
During his 20 years in the league, Bryant focused on growing the game overseas, particularly in China where he became one of the country's most celebrated players. He also served as global ambassador for the NBA in China and partnered with Alibaba to release a documentary called Kobe Bryant Muse.
Kobe also invested in Bodyarmor, a sports drink maker, where he had a $6 million stake. This grew in value to $200 million after an investment from Coca-Cola in 2018, as a result of Coke trying to compete against Gatorade.
In 2016, he announced a partnership between his production company, Granity Studios, and Sports Illustrated to create an animated short called "Dear Basketball." The film, based on a poem he wrote to announce his retirement, went on to win an Oscar in the same year.
Bryant often encouraged young players to realise their careers beyond basketball. That they needed to plan far beyond retirement and find something worth investing in.
“The question needs to be, 'What is my passion and not where can I create the most value or generate the most revenue,” he said.
He added: “When you find that next passion, everything else will make sense.”