Bryant had said that spending time with young people going through some of life’s most difficult challenges had been truly meaningful to him.
Kobe Bryant was a man with a great heart, on and off the court. The late NBA legend had granted more than 200 requests for the Make-A-Wish Foundation in his two decades with the Los Angeles Lakers, reports People. Bryant, who made his mark in the basketball field, had said that spending time with young people going through some of life’s most difficult challenges had been truly meaningful to him. “Basketball is something that will come and eventually go, the beauty in that is trying to use that time to inspire others and provide some sort of escape for them,” Bryant explained in a video interview with Time Warner Sportsnet in 2016.
“I think that’s something that lives well beyond the game of basketball and is probably most important.” The five-time champion and former NBA MVP died on Sunday in a helicopter crash that also claimed the life of his daughter Gianna Bryant, 13, and seven others. “Make-A-Wish is devastated to learn of wish granter Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna’s tragic death,” the foundation said in a statement to People.
More remarkable stories come out with each passing day showing what a wonderful man Kobe was. He didn't do this for recognition, because it was never made public. He did it because he had a huge heart.#KobeBraynthttps://t.co/zV4Si0lpFE— 🌙Susan🌙 (@SusanPa86080326) January 30, 2020
“Kobe granted more than 200 wishes, giving each child hope for a brighter future. Our heartfelt condolences to the Bryant family and all the families who lost a loved one.” Once the news of his death broke, several Make-A-Wish recipients shared stories from when they had met the Lakers superstar. “Meeting Kobe was probably the highlight of my life,” Jordan Patterson, who met Bryant eight years ago, when he was 13, told TV station WITI.
He never boasted and really just seemed humbled and grateful for all the blessings...As a catholic and someone who believes in God and all his good, I can’t help but wonder why he would call this decent, kind man and his precious daughter so soon...Makes no sense...💔— Lisa Cavicchio (@browneyes51073) January 30, 2020
Patterson, from Wisconsin, was then fighting kidney dysfunction and was able to meet Bryant after he and his family were flown out to L.A. “It boosted my spirits so high,” Patterson told the station of the 2012 visit. “I’m really grateful for that … [he] signed all my pictures, took any pictures I wanted, answered all my questions.” In a Facebook post, Patrick Moore thankfully remembered the time his son, Henry, was able to meet Bryant through Make-A-Wish.
Moore posted: Henry asked to meet Kobe Bryant for his Make a Wish. It was soon after his transplant and he had recently turned eight years old. We were surprised when the Make a Wish Volunteer told us that meeting Kobe Bryant was Henry’s wish. (The kids speak privately with the volunteers so parents don’t influence their wish. We didn’t bring anything for Kobe to sign and didn’t want to impose on him in any way. We were grateful for Henry just to be able to see Kobe play a game in person. We expected he would take a quick photo and be done.
My dad used to say the good die young. 😥 I guess heaven needed a hero, more than what we did.☹— Kathy Wagner (@CdnLadyKathy) January 30, 2020
Kobe asked why we didn’t bring anything to sign and he sent an assistant to the Laker’s store in the Staples Center. The assistant brought back a TON of stuff and Kobe signed it all. He held Henry through much of our visit. The memorabilia is still all over Henry’s bedroom. I hope he knew how much joy his visit brought to Henry. He was Henry’s hero before the Wish. He was Angela’s and mine after that Wish. Godspeed Kobe.
Bryant also did a lot of charitable work outside of Make-A-Wish, including with the Boys & Girls Club of America, After-School All-Stars and Stand Up To Cancer. He also helped youth and families in need through his own organization, the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation. “If you just work at your craft, anything is possible,” said Jordan Patterson about the life lessons from Bryant he’ll always hold close to his heart. “Anyone can be great, and that just sticks with me every day.”