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Kobe Bryant, Basketball Icon and Venture Capitalist: 15 Quotes from Mamba on Success, Failure, and Work Ethic

After basketball, Kobe Bryant became a successful businessman and venture capitalist-but his stint in entrepreneurship ended too soon.
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Suck at money? Congrats. You’re part of the 99 percent of people in their 20s floundering when it comes to finance. Adulting is hard, and money is harder—especially when it’s your own and not your parents. My Two Cents is here to break down everything you need to know about finance, business, and entrepreneurship. We’ll tackle all the basics, from how to get a business permit to how to invest in stocks, to educate the fledgling adults on how to not go broke.

Welcome to the idiot’s guide to money. In this special episode of My Two Cents, we rehash the best Kobe Bryant quotes on success, drive, and failure.

Many people idolize the Mamba for his 20-year career on the basketball court, but few are aware of the media mogul he became after his retirement. In the years leading up to his death at just 41, Bryant refocused his Mamba mentality, known for his intense work ethic, from basketball to building his own business empire.

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His brainchild, Kobe Inc., was formed to expand Bryant’s ventures in his home court—the sports industry. He invested in various small businesses through Kobe Inc., such as Bodyarmor SuperDrink for $6 million, and also produced his Oscar-winning short film Dear Basketball. The Coca-Cola Company saw the potential of Kobe Inc. and purchased a minority stake in the company in 2018, which bumped up the valuation of Bryant’s personal stake into the company to $200 million.

Bryant knew a thing or two about money. From the start, Mamba knew his worth. Through smart career choices, curated sponsorships, and a circle of trustworthy advisers, he eventually grew his net worth to approximately $600 million. But in the fashion of the greatest of leaders, Bryant chose to pay his success forward.

In 2016, he unveiled his venture capital firm called Bryant-Stibel with entrepreneur and scientist Jeff Stibel. The firm is dedicated to supporting businesses across a broad swatch of industries: media, data, gaming, and technology. One of their investments is in Epic Games, the company behind a little game called Fortnite. His other investments include Alibaba, Dell Technologies, National Vision, The Honest Company, and more. In September, 2019, it was reported that Bryant-Stibel was managing more than $2 billion in capital.

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Bryant also co-founded the Mamba Sports Academy, which was both a business and school designed to mold the next best male and female athletes in basketball, football, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and more. This was the project closest to his heart as his daughter, Gianna “Mambacita” Bryant, was one of Mamba Sports Academy’s students. Incidentally, Kobe and Gianna were on their way to a game at the academy when they both died in a tragic helicopter accident, along with seven other people. 

His shift to venture capitalism and entrepreneurship was probably Kobe’s hardest game yet, but in just a few years, he had built an impressive track record. To say he was gone too soon is an understatement. He was a basketball hero, rising entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and philanthropist. The impact of his death has been momentous, but the impact he could have made in life ended prematurely.

But 24 would tell us that the game must go on, and he left behind a few motivational and iconic Kobe Bryant quotes on success, drive, and more: 

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Kobe on work ethic

"Dedication sees dreams come true."

"I can't relate to lazy people. We don't speak the same language. I don't understand you. I don't want to understand you."

"I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success. Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses."

Kobe on winning

"I'll do whatever it takes to win games, whether it's sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate, or hitting the game-winning shot."

"The moment you give up, is the moment you let someone else win."

"Once you know what failure feels like, determination chases success."

Kobe on failing

"I have self-doubt. I have insecurity. I have fear of failure. I have nights when I show up at the arena and I'm like, 'My back hurts, my feet hurt, my knees hurt. I don't have it. I just want to chill.' We all have self-doubt. You don't deny it, but you also don't capitulate to it. You embrace it."

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"When we are saying this cannot be accomplished, this cannot be done, then we are short-changing ourselves. My brain, it cannot process failure. It will not process failure. Because if I have to sit there and face myself and tell myself 'you are a failure,' I think that is almost worse than dying."

“This is the moment I accept the most challenging times will always be behind me and in front of me.”

“If you're afraid to fail, then you're probably going to fail.”

Kobe on leadership

"The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great at whatever they want to do."

“Leadership is lonely ... I'm not going to be afraid of confrontation to get us to where we need to go. There's a big misconception where people thinking winning or success comes from everybody putting their arms around each other and singing kumbaya and patting them on the back when they mess up, and that's just not reality. If you are going to be a leader, you are not going to please everybody. You have to hold people accountable. Even if you have that moment of being uncomfortable.”

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“A lot of leaders fail because they don’t have the bravery to touch that nerve or strike that chord.”

Kobe on success

“When you make a choice and say, 'Come hell or high water, I am going to be this,' then you should not be surprised when you are that. It should not be something that is intoxicating or out of character because you have seen this moment for so long that... when that moment comes, of course it is here because it has been here the whole time, because it has been [in your mind] the whole time.”

Kobe on Kobe

"I don't want to be the next Michael Jordan, I only want to be Kobe Bryant." 

Bryant is survived by his wife, three daughters, parents, and sisters.

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Anri Ichimura
Staff Writer, Esquire Philippines
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