New York: We have heard so many accounts this week about Kobe Bryant. And many of those accounts have hit home from those who knew him or developed that respect for Bryant;
We are aware that Kobe Bryant was an inspiration. His life and legacy gone too soon with the tragic helicopter crash that took his life and young daughter along with seven others.
Wednesday evening, Josh Colon, a junior guard was on the basketball court at Fordham University. He went about his business and the native of Carolina, Puerto Rico, he turned to Division 1 basketball and attributes that to Kobe Bryant.
Until then, baseball, the national game and what every youngster aspires to play in Puerto Rico, is what he looked to be a part of.
But a conversation changed everything. Josh Colon wanted the game of basketball. His father, then in Puerto Rico, was one of those that met Bryant. They spoke.
The inspiration led to Colon wanting basketball over baseball.
He would eventually made that transition to scoring points on the hardwood and signed that letter of intent to study and play ball at Fordham University.
Kobe Bryant, as he says, was the driving force in that transition.
Fordham would lose another game in the tough A-10 Conference, overtime to St. Bonaventure. Colon, getting more playing time finished with 3 points in 26 minutes for the Rams.
Colon is proud he made the transition, He talked about his experience as a Latino playing Division 1 basketball in New York City. With emotion, he discussed how Kobe Bryant, as with many, was an inspiration to get where he is.
“Inspired how he made basketball,” Colon said after Fordham continued to struggle with a 1-7 record in the conference that puts them next to last.
He played a lot of sports. Baseball at first and then got that itch
“After watching Kobe, started getting into basketball, me in Puerto Rico, 12 or 13 years old,” Colon said.
He and his teammates were in St. Louis when the news came about the untimely death of Kobe Bryant. Like the rest of the nation and the world, it was hard to believe that this basketball icon and role model was in that helicopter.
“I didn’t believe it, even to this point,” Colon said. “ It still hasn’t hit me. That’s the reason, (Kobe) why I’m playing basketball now.”
So the games go on. Kobe Bryant will always be etched in stone when talking about a special athlete. Similar to the great and late Roberto Clemente, Bryant lost his life in a single aviation accident. Both were special and willing to help others.
Josh Colon, he is living his dream. Fordham has become a home and his coach, Jeff Neubauer said, “When he plays it gives us more of a chance to win.”
Yet, Colon, is still learning as he gets more playing time. Earlier this month, he netted a season-high ten points and added five assists with three steals up at Rose Hill in a loss to Tennessee State.
He has become that team player. And, when on the court, he knows how to control the ball the same way that Kobe Bryant did.
“Getting people the open shots,’ Colon said. “It’s up to them to make it to get in the lane and find other people. Pass the ball, control the game.”
His frame, 5ft 10 / 170, more suited for baseball. But one visit to Fordham and he was convinced this was the destination to live that dream, and it was all inspired by watching Kobe Bryant.
“Could have gone other places,” he said. “Felt like the situation, Fordham was the best destination for me. All the players treated each other like a family, no beef who’s who. We’re pretty close to each other. Saw that on my visit.”
He said, New York City made a native from Puerto Rico feel more at home, More importantly, Fordham is in that established Division 1 basketball conference and a degree from the university does go a long way.
“New York is basically like at home,” he said. “A lot of latinos, a lot of Puerto Rican food Here I can do it anytime. This is why I play basketball, for Division 1 basketball, making my family proud. This is my dream. I always wanted to play Division 1 basketball in the United states. That was my number one goal.”
The goal has come to fruition. And there is more to come with Kobe Bryant always as that inspiration.
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