Jeter Downs may be named after Major League Baseball legend Derek Jeter, but his favorite athlete growing up played a different sport.
Downs is just one of countless young people that looked up to Kobe Bryant during their youth. Bryant served as inspiration for Downs for years, and Downs has taken away plenty of life lessons as a result.
“Just his mindset and how he went about everything,” Downs said of Bryant, per MassLive’s Christopher Smith. “It doesn’t matter what the situation was. He would always have that fighting spirit to come out of it on top. Just that attitude. That will to win.”
So news of Bryant’s death in a helicopter crash shook the 21-year-old that day in January. Downs later posted a tribute to the late Los Angeles Lakers star on Twitter the day he died, thanking him for being a quality role model through childhood.
Though Bryant is gone, Downs still plans to live by the values he promoted.
“(I admire) his demeanor, his will to win,” Downs said. “He always had that drive, that killer instinct. He always wanted to take the last shot. That’s something I strive (to do), like striving under pressure and being able to cope with all that stuff.”
That Mamba mentality sure is contagious.