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The world is today mourning the death of Kobe Bryant, the American basketball legend and retired NBA star. What many might not know is that he also paid a visit to the Cryptoverse.
Bryant, a.k.a. Black Mamba, died in a tragic accident on Sunday in a helicopter crash in California at age of 41. His daughter Gianna and seven more people were killed as well. According to the New York Times, the authorities have not yet been able to recover the bodies due to the rough terrain of the crash site, and it will take several days to do so.
Bryant had a small connection to the world of crypto and blockchain. In November 2018, the Tron Foundation made headlines when it announced that “Kobe Bryant, CEO and President of Kobe Inc and NBA legend, will be attending Tron’s first international conference in San Francisco as a Special Guest to share his vision on entrepreneurship.” His role at the two-day NiTRON Event was to share his knowledge and life experience with entrepreneurs and leaders.
The response to this news was mixed, with some people believing it’ll promote both Tron and cryptocurrencies in general, and others wondering if he was going there just for a paycheck. “It was amazing to talk about our shared values. Let’s continue to wake up every day doing the things we love,” said Tron’s Justin Sun following the event.
Tron Foundation has expressed their condolences and stated that the upcoming niTROn Summit, planned to be held from February 29 through March 1 in Seoul, will be dedicated to Black Mamba.
Kobe Bryant, 41, the legendary basketball star who spent 20 years with the LA Lakers, passed away today.
Kobe is a member of the TRON Family. As such, we will be dedicating @niTROnSummit‘s festivities to his legendary life & legacy.
Please share your favorite Kobe memories here pic.twitter.com/Ra8IzFBpbc
— TRON Foundation (@Tronfoundation) 26 January 2020
Justin Sun further tweeted alongside a photo of him and Bryant: “Kobe, was great to have met you in niTROn 2019. Mtg you was one of my life’s greatest honor & privilege, I’ll forever remember us on stage discussing the future of blockchain. We’ll have a moment of silence in your honor during niTROn 2020. R.I.P.”
While many see this as a respectful act, not everybody in the Cryptoverse is convinced that this is an honest expression of condolences, but rather a marketing ploy. For example, Dovey Wan, Partner at crypto investment firm Primitive Ventures, called Sun “a total psychopath, period.” (Learn more: Ex-BitTorrent Staff Allege Violence at Tron from Boss Justin Sun)
This is completely intolerable for using a legend’s tragic death as a marketing gimmick 🤮🤮🤮
— Dovey 以德服人 Wan 🗝 🦖 (@DoveyWan) 27 January 2020
Meanwhile, Bryant had been involved in a number of different businesses, projects and endorsement deals throughout his career, and his support was often a major wind in the back and validation for a project or business. It’s not surprising that he was involved in projects outside his basketball career as he had said in an interview that he’d rather be known for the venture investing than for basketball. The same article states that Bryant and entrepreneur and former Web.com CEO, Jeff Stibel had launched a USD 100 million investment fund called Bryant Stibel back in 2013.
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The company now has more than USD 2 billion in assets, reports CNN Business, and has been focused on investments in many technology, media and data companies, such as the famous game Fortnite creator Epic Games (that enabled Monero pay at its store ‘by accident’ in 2019), digital payment company Klarna and household products firm The Honest Company, and it also claims a number of successful exits, including Dell and Alibaba. Bryant invested in the gaming industry to support the technology behind it, which is a field of growth for crypto and blockchain, and he likely would’ve come more in contact with them in the future.
Speaking of Alibaba, Bryant Stibel had invested in Alibaba, but also Bryant himself worked with Alibaba Group in 2015 to release the basketball star’s documentary “Kobe Bryant’s Muse,” and he had a strong relationship with former CEO, Jack Ma. As reported, Ma is a known Bitcoin skeptic, but he’s a believer and an investor in blockchain-based projects. For example, his Ant Financial launched blockchain-based money transfers between Hong Kong and the Philippines, and he believes that impact of blockchain on people and society will be “greater than we can ever imagine.”
Meanwhile, in early January, collectibles company Panini America announced that the launch of officially licensed blockchain-based trading cards, featuring famous athletes including Kobe Bryant.
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