Less than 24 hours before dot.LA launched a year ago today, I was coming back into cell service after a hike in Mandeville Canyon when I received a flurry of texts and push notifications: Kobe Bryant had died.
Like many who had grown up watching the Black Mamba tear through global basketball, the sudden loss of such an immortal figure shook me. Since moving from the floor to the rafters at Staples Center, Kobe had plunged into the startup world with his typical ferocity and excellence. He became an influential tech investor as a partner at Bryant Stibel.
Most of America knew Kobe Bryant as an NBA superstar, a shooting guard who led the Los Angeles Lakers to countless championships. Jeff Stibel knew him off the court.
In an emotional Instagram message, Stibel broke his silence and lamented about "what was ahead" for Bryant. The duo struck up a friendship, and later a venture capital firm baring their names, as Bryant was plotting his retirement from professional sports. Venture capital — and just being an entrepreneur — was the hoop star's second act.
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In his first public remarks about the death of Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer called the NBA superstar's death "a tragedy of tragedies" at a gathering of venture capital investors in Pasadena.
"It's obviously a tragedy anytime someone dies that young let alone the number of people who passed away," Ballmer said, before adding that Clippers players have been personally affected.