In modern times it has become fashionable for American athletes to trash the United States as an unfair, racist nation. But during his time in the NBA, that wasn’t the case for the late Kobe Bryant.
In the aftermath of his untimely death in a tragic helicopter accident on Sunday, a video has resurfaced of the Los Angeles Lakers star describing his love for his country.
Cris Collinsworth interviewed Bryant in 2008 when the player was the captain of the United States Olympic basketball team.
When Collinsworth asked Bryant about the moment he first looked at his Team USA jersey, Bryant was beaming with pride.
A moment from NBC’s coverage of the 2008 Olympics that I will always remember. Kobe Bryant telling Cris Collinsworth about the first time he received his USA uniform. pic.twitter.com/0gNctphYcI
— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) January 26, 2020
“Tell the story of when you first got your USA uniform,” Collinsworth said.
“Well, I had goosebumps, and I actually just looked at it for a while. I just, I just held it there and I laid it across my bed and I just stared at it for a few minutes,” Bryant responded. “Just because it’s, you know, as a kid growing up, this is the ultimate, ultimate in basketball.”
Collinsworth then asked Bryant where his patriotism came from, and Bryant’s response was beautiful.
“Well, you know, it’s just, our country, we believe it’s the greatest country in the world. And it’s given us so many great opportunities.
“And it’s just a sense of pride that you have. Cause you say, you know what, our country’s the best,” he said.
“Is that a cool thing to say in this day and age? That you love your country, and that you’re fighting for the red, white and blue? It seems like, sort of, a day gone by,” Collinsworth queried.
But Bryant was not embarrassed and would not be deterred from expressing his love of the United States.
“No, it’s a cool thing for me to say. You know, I feel great about it. And I’m not ashamed to say it. This is, this is a tremendous honor,” he said.
And as the world mourns the loss of this great player there is a special, deeper sense of loss for Americans.
Kobe Bryant transcended the sport of basketball and became an American legend, a role model and a hero to so many.
The helicopter crash that ended his young life at the age of 41, the life of his daughter Gianna at 13, and those of seven other people hits harder because of the kind of man Bryant was.
“You know what, our country’s the best … and I’m not ashamed to say it.”
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