KOBE LEAVES LASTING IMPRINT ON PINAY FAN: Kobe Bryant isn't exactly the most liked player in the NBA, and there was a time when he was the most polarizing figure in the league - until LeBron James rose to prominence and snatched the title away.
Writer Jack McCallum of Sports Illustrated once dubbed the 2008 NBA MVP as the "Guy Who Sometimes Shoots Too Much" or the "Guy Who Sometimes Criticizes His Teammates Too Much," obviously referring to the six time Manila visitor's obsession with winning, while unmindful of the feelings of others.
But one need not be a fan of the five-time NBA champion to appreciate the other things Bryant does outside chasing his sixth championship ring, like giving back to his most ardent fans.
Tuesday was a case in point.
Despite an absolute 'No photos, no autographs' policy, Kobe offered to sign a newspaper clipping that amputee Katryn Tan has kept for 15 years, in the hope that her biggest hero would sign in one day.
Katkat, a former high school ball player who lost her left arm in a school fair accident when she was 10 years old, met a young Kobe for the first time in 1998 during the NBA superstar's first visit to the country.
Ms. Tan, who now works as a graphic designer at De La Salle-Zobel, swears it was her passion to emulate the 'Black Mamba's' work ethic and approach to life that kept her spirit afloat after losing her left arm.
Curiously, Kobe also draws strength from inspiring others.
"By inspiring others," Bryant told GMA News in a brief sit-down interview when asked how he keeps himself motivated.
"Like today, seeing Katkat again inspires me to strive harder knowing she draws inspiration from me. It makes me want to strive harder," the Lakers star added.
Now that is how you earn respect.