There's no doubt that Kobe Bryant was one of the most competitive and hard-working persons to ever live. He took pride in outworking everybody else in the league and even though he could lose a game, he just couldn't handle being outhustled.
That Mamba Mentality is one of the many things that set Kobe apart from the rest of the NBA. His determination, grit, grind, and stubbornness were pretty much unmatched.
You'd have to think that Kobe was always like that. But where did that spirit come from? How was he molded into that competitive beast he was? Well, according to former NBA player Keith Closs, it was all thanks to his dad, Joe Bryant.
Closs told the story of the time where he was coaching an ABCD camp and Kobe was in attendance. Kobe's team won the game so he refused to run sprints. When his dad found out, he knocked the wind out of his chest in front of a packed gym and told him to do his job:
“His dad punches him in the chest. Slides him across the floor in front of a gym packed full of people, about a thousand. He knocks the wind out of Kobe. Kobe sitting there gasping for air and tears coming down his cheek. He says, ‘boy don’t you ever disrespect your coaches, and don’t you ever embarrass your family like this. Your coach is right’," Closs said.
Kobe decided to forgo high school and make the jump straight to the NBA. There, once he got a chance to showcase his talents, he never looked back.
Up to this day, young players and even people outside of sports still look up to Kobe and his mindset. His determination, hard work, and eagerness to always be better continue to inspire millions of people. And while he'll never condone physical violence - especially from a father towards a minor - maybe it all started right there on that gym.