Kobe Bryant’s Nickname: Why Was NBA Legend Called Black Mamba?

Frazer HarrisonGetty Images

The world is mourning Kobe Bryant after it was revealed on Sunday afternoon that the basketball great died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. The news only worsened when it was revealed that one of Kobe’s four daughters, Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, was also among the deceased in the crash. Within minutes, Twitter became the place for fans and celebrities to remember the Los Angeles Lakers player, and nearly every trending topic revolved around the basketballer in some way.

Two of the biggest trends currently are #RIPMamba and #MambaOut, as fans pay tribute to Kobe by his nickname. Many know the Olympian by the legendary nickname, but not many people might know where it came from. While most people are given nicknames by fans and friends, Black Mamba was an alter-ego Kobe gave himself during one of the darkest times in his life, according to Business Insider.

In Kobe’s 2015 documentary, Muse, he revealed the origin of Black Mamba. The father-of-four was accused of sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman in 2003 in Colorado. Kobe doesn’t directly address the allegations in Muse, but he hints at the time and how his family was almost completely shattered and how it severely changed the public’s perception of him.

“I went from a person who was at the top of his game, had everything coming, to a year later, having absolutely no idea where life is going or if you are even going to be a part of life as we all know it,” Kobe said in his documentary.

View this post on Instagram

The story of #Wizenard was greatly inspired by the coaches I’ve had and the lessons they taught me throughout my life. Therefore, I’m proud to present the #WizenardCoachAward to four #MambaLeague coaches who are doing exemplary work in transforming the lives of students and have become a catalyst for enhancing growth and development in others. Congrats to coaches Elisha, April, Q and Alphonso. You’ve shown great commitment in teaching not just athletic, but social and emotional skills to the next generation. Like Q said, “the best part about being a coach is seeing the growth and development from the players when they first walk in the gym. Being a coach, mentor, teacher and leader to the players on my team is what I love the most.” ???????? ????#MambaMentality

A post shared by Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) on

This kicked off the birth of the Black Mamba.

“I had to separate myself,” Kobe noted.

“It felt like there were so many things coming at once. It was just becoming very, very confusing. I had to organize things. So I created The Black Mamba.”

Kobe also remembered getting the idea of the nickname from Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, where the Black Mamba is described as a deadly assassin due to its agility and aggressiveness, the Mirror claims. The Oscar winner said he researched the animal after the movie and was impressed with what it could do, and from there on out, the nickname stuck and grew. He later noted that Kobe the man would deal with issues off the court, and the Black Mamba would deal with issues on the court.

The Black Mamba mantra saved Kobe. It was a way for him to cope when the world turned against him, and it has become one of the most famous monikers associated with any athlete.