How did Kobe Bryant's connection with the Latino community come about?

The tragic death of Kobe Bryant, in a helicopter accident on January 26, left a great void among basketball fans around the world. However, this event was especially painful for the Latino community. Well, the NBA legend had a Latin soul.

Kobe Bryant on the basketball court.
CREDIT: SPORTS WORLD

Los Angeles, the city of the Lakers, the team where Bryant played his entire professional career, is one of the areas with the largest Latino population in the United States; so many of them are fans of the late player.

For this same reason, 'Mamba Negra', nickname by which Kobe Bryant was known, had an incredible relationship with his Latino fans.

Lakers fans
CREDIT: GIPHY / NBA

Such was his empathy with the Latino community that, in the press conference he gave in his last game in the NBA, on April 13, 2016, he highlighted:

"Latin fans are very important, because when I got here those fans were the ones who hugged me the most, with a lot of passion." "They mean everything to me."

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But how did Kobe Bryant's connection with the Latino community and the language come about?

Telenovelas and a Wife of Mexican Origin

Bryant's strong bond with the Latino community was highly influenced by his marriage to Vanessa Laine Bryant, who is a model and, although born in Los Angeles, is of Mexican origin.

Kobe Bryant and his wife Vanessa Laine.
CREDIT: THE VANGUARD

"Having a Latin wife is very significant," the player commented on occasion.

But how did you learn the language?

It was surprising that the NBA legend gave interviews in Spanish and spoke this language fluently. Therefore, it was one of the recurring questions from reporters who came to interview him.

During his farewell to the courts, Bryant made it known that his interest in the language also had a lot to do with his Latino fans, because in this way he communicated with them and understood them.

"I told myself give me 2 or 3 years and I'm going to speak a little Spanish," was the decision the basketball player made after seeing the great support he received from the Latino community.

And he learned it in a very peculiar way ...

In 2017, Bryant said that he learned Spanish by watching television with his wife Vanessa and his mother-in-law. And not in some program to learn that language, but in one of the favorite programs of the Latino community: telenovelas.

Fragment of the telenovela 'La Madrastra'.
CREDIT: GIPHY

"Looking at novels," Bryant responded when asked by a reporter how he learned the language. "Watching 'La Madrasta' (a Mexican telenovela) and 'Sábado Gigante' (the entertainment program hosted by Don Francisco)".

With a wife and family of Mexican origins and a telenovela viewer, it was no wonder Bryant had Mexican idioms and understood his Latino fans so well.

Kobe Bryant and his family.
CREDIT: GIPHY / NBA

For this reason, his loss is a very regrettable event, as is that of his daughter, Gianna Bryant "Mambacita", and the other seven people who were traveling in the helicopter that suffered an accident on 26 January.

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Beyond his professionalism on the court and his outstanding career as an athlete, Kobe Bryant leaves a gap among his fans and, especially, among the Latino community for his human warmth, his humility before his audience and his Latino soul. RIP Kobe

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