ESPN's Jeff Passan, one of the network's premier MLB insiders got his hands on a text late Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant had sent John Altobelli, one of the nine passengers aboard Bryant's S-76 Sikorsky helicopter that crashed into the hills of Calabasas on Jan. 26, killing all on board.
Altobelli was more than just one of the nine names involved in the crash, he was a personal friend of Bryant's and the head coach of Orange Coast College baseball team, which around early 2019, was going through a two-game losing skid.
For a powerhouse junior college program, that was a mini-crisis that needed solving. The former Lakers star, who had come into knowing Altobelli due to their daughters playing together on Bryant's elite Mamba Sports Academy team, decided to offer some words of inspiration.
The text, sent on March 28, 2019, read as follows:
Writer's note: Text has been slightly edited for clarity.
Via ESPN's Jeff Passan:
“By all means feel sorry for yourself. By all means make excuses. By all means feel discouraged. By all means don't play like this game is the most important thing to you. By all means entertain yourself with other sh*t because the game of baseball will be here forever and you will have infinite opportunities to play this game. You will infinite opportunities to put on your gear, feel the glove, the ball, etc. The game of baseball will wait for you. Life will wait for you.
“It's not as life can be taken away from you at any moment. Nooo that would be crazy, that would be cruel. Right? So, by all means, play the game as if [you] will have all the swings you can dream of and when the day comes when you realize baseball, that life doesn't work that way, you will understand that the best [way] to play is by ANY MEANS necessary. By any means. No excuses. No waiting. F*ck patience. F*ck injuries and f*ck THEM. PLAY as if every at bat may be ur last because it very f*cking well could be. So let's make every single f*cking one count. Lets go get these f*ckers!”
This text might as well be a cheat sheet of an inspiring pre-championship speech, but these are the words that the Lakers legend lived by every day.
Altobelli took those words to heart and displayed them on an orange bulletin board inside of OCC's dugout with four push pins held up an 8½-by-11 sheet of paper.
Bryant might have only lived to be 41 years old, but the Lakers legend squeezed more out of every minute and every second than most others have over their entire lifespan. Bryant lived and breathed the Mamba Mentality, but what made him all the more iconic was his desire to impart this knowledge and this approach to life to many others, regardless of race, gender, religion, or sport.