Basketball legend Kobe Bryant has died at the age of 41.
I still can't believe this.
It's hard to believe. Yesterday, Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, CA. His death has shocked the world, with celebrities and fans mourning one of the greatest players in NBA history.
Tell me more.
Born in Philadelphia, Bryant began his 20-year professional basketball career right out of high school when he was drafted by the NBA and traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. He was the youngest player in NBA history in his opening game in 1996. During his career, he helped the Lakers win five NBA championships and won several MVP awards. He was an 18-time NBA All-Star. And won gold medals as a member of the US men's basketball team during the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics.
That's not all. In 2016, Bryant retired, but not before scoring 60 points in his final NBA game. He was the only NBA player in history to have both of his jerseys (No. 8 and No. 24) retired by a franchise, numbers that are iconic to NBA fans worldwide. Just over the weekend, Bryant congratulated LeBron James for passing him on the all-time NBA scoring list. Yesterday, James talked about meeting Bryant in 2002 and his admiration for the NBA legend.
What about off the court?
Bryant was the ambassador for After-School All-Stars, which organizes after-school programs for children. He also founded the Kobe Bryant China Fund, which raised money for education and health programs. But Bryant's success wasn't without controversy. In 2003, he was accused of sexual assault. The charges were dropped, and Bryant apologized for the incident. He said he believed it was consensual and later settled a civil suit. After he retired from the NBA, Bryant turned to the arts. He wrote children's books and produced animated stories. And in 2018, he won an Academy Award for his animated short "Dear Basketball." And he kept trying to build his legacy.
You mean the "Mamba mentality?"
Yes. Bryant called himself the "Black Mamba" and used the term "Mamba mentality" to remind everyone of the constant effort needed to be the best version of oneself. And he founded the Mamba Sports Academy, where he coached his daughter Gianna. Bryant leaves behind his wife Vanessa and three daughters Natalia, Bianka, and Capri – born in June.
Bryant is being remembered not only as one of the greatest basketball players of all time but also for his talents outside the court. His accomplishments have many mourning the man behind the "Mamba mentality." He will be missed.
What people are still watching…
This coronavirus. The pneumonia-like virus that was discovered last month in Wuhan, central China, has killed at least 81 people and infected more than 2,700 others. So far, the virus has spread to several other countries, including the US – where at least five cases have been reported (in California, Illinois, Washington state, and Arizona). Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that the country is facing a "grave situation" and the country extended the Lunar New Year holiday until Feb 2 to help curb the spread of the virus.
What else China said: That the virus seems to be able to spread before symptoms show, making it more difficult to contain. And that it's suspending tour groups for Chinese citizens overseas. Meanwhile, the US organized the evacuation of US diplomats and citizens out of Wuhan.
What's getting techy…
The Iowa caucuses. On Feb 3, the Iowa caucuses will put forth the first votes in the presidential primaries. And this year, Democrats are expected to record their vote on a new smartphone app. Supporters apparently say the mobile app would make it easier and faster to report results from some 1,700 caucus sites. But critics are concerned about the app's security (think: hackings). The state's Democratic Party chairman said the party is "confident in the security systems" that are in place, but some have reportedly called it a "security nightmare."
Skimm More: We Skimm'd everything you need to know about next week's Iowa caucuses.
What rolled out the red carpet…
The Grammys. Last night, they went down at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, home of the Los Angeles Lakers. Alicia Keys paid tribute to Kobe Bryant alongside Boyz II Men. Bryant was also included in a tribute to Nipsey Hussle. Billie Eilish got everything she wanted. The Grammys think Tyler is Creative. Demi Lovato is back. Lizzo and her flute won best pop solo performer. Period.
What else gained attention: Diversity, or lack thereof. The Grammys, much like the Oscars, have gotten slammed for it. Yesterday, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences announced new initiatives to address this, including hiring a dedicated diversity and inclusion officer.
It's not the only controversy: The Recording Academy's first female CEO recently claimed she was ousted, and has filed a discrimination complaint over it.
What's giving people déjà vu…
President Trump's impeachment trial is back on at 1pm ET. That's after the Senate worked over the weekend continuing with opening arguments from both sides. To recap:
Team Convict: On Friday, House Democrats finished their opening arguments in the case against President Trump, arguing that he abused his power and obstructed Congress by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rival.
Team Don't: On Saturday, Trump's lawyers started to lay out opening arguments. They're claiming the impeachment push amounts to Dems trying to overturn the results of the 2016 election and interfere with 2020's. Arguments continue today.
There's also this: Over the weekend, a video recording was released of Trump seemingly calling for former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch's dismissal back in 2018. The video also appears to show Trump and Lev Parnas speaking at length – despite Trump's recent claims that he has no idea who that man is.