By Greg Bach
The U.S. Open has provided great drama and spectacular tennis the past two weeks, punctuated by Naomi Osaka’s incredible display of sportsmanship after defeating 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff.
On hand in New York to catch some of the terrific tennis was NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who has just released LEGACY AND THE QUEEN, the second novel in The Wizenard Series he created. LEGACY AND THE QUEEN, written by Annie Matthew, is about a young female tennis prodigy who must defeat impossible and supernatural odds to save everything that is important to her.
We caught up with the five-time NBA champion, 18-time all-star and father of four to discuss the book and parenting kids in sports, and in this earlier piece Bryant talks about mental stamina, emotional clarity, handling fear, and more.
SPORTINGKID LIVE: As a father how do you handle your kids’ sports participation and on those days where maybe things didn’t go as well as they hoped what’s your approach?
BRYANT: If something didn’t go as they hoped, I always encourage my daughters to not fight whatever it is that they are feeling, but to face it. And to also understand the connection between sports and life; you can’t separate becoming a better player and a better person. Disappointment can propel young children to greater heights if they deal with it as this builds mental toughness, thus allowing kids to be resilient and deal with the pressure that comes with participating at a higher level.
SPORTINGKID LIVE: With so many children these days struggling with low confidence and self-esteem how can coaches and parents help kids to have realistic dreams and find the passion to pursue them?
BRYANT: At a young age, we sometimes don’t see what our capabilities are, and we tend to devalue and doubt our abilities. However, when there is someone who really believes in you, they can help you see your potential more clearly and push you to be best version of yourself. Whether it’s a close friend, parent, or coach, they have the ability to inspire and encourage young children to believe that they are destined for greatness and their dreams can be achieved. You must constantly encourage them to not turn away from whatever is their true calling and instill the confidence and belief that they have what it takes to succeed.
SPORTINGKID LIVE: What is the meaning behind this second book in your series?
BRYANT: LEGACY AND THE QUEEN is about a young female tennis prodigy who must defeat impossible and supernatural odds to save everything that is important to her. I created this story to teach the younger generation about the power of emotion. In sports and in life, there is a tendency to ignore your emotions instead of embracing them. Throughout this novel, the main character Legacy fights her frustrations, anger and insecurities, which gets her nowhere. It is only when she starts to embrace her inner feelings is when she is able to propel herself forward and use her skills and her love of the game to rise above those around her.
SPORTINGKID LIVE: What do you hope youngsters take away from it and apply to their own lives?
BRYANT: After reading LEGACY AND THE QUEEN, I hope young readers can learn that with true acceptance they can use their vulnerabilities to become better individuals. Lastly, the novel also teaches important life lessons and values such as the importance of teamwork, setting goals, challenging yourself, and most importantly – never giving up.
Patrick McEnroe – youth tennis instructor, dad of three and host of the Holding Court podcast – on coaching and connecting with kids, influencing lives, and more
Former UCLA track and field and cross-country runner Bryan Green, author of MAKE THE LEAP, on helping young athletes think and train better to maximize their potential
Katrina Adams, former president of the United States Tennis Association and author of OWN THE ARENA, on leading your organizations to greater success; her love of tennis; and what youth can learn from playing the sport to carry with them for a lifetime
Noelle Pikus Pace – a two-time Olympian, mother, motivational speaker and youth mindset coach – on unleashing the power of the mind to help young athletes perform at their best