#24 (times two)

Kevin Anga ’17

Recently many notable players have chosen to end their great careers. Two are all time greats, who coincidentally share the same number, number 24. These two players are  Charles Woodson and Kobe Bryant. Their legendary careers have inspired many people to work hard to achieve their goals in not only sports, but in other areas of life as well.

Charles Woodson is a former NFL cornerback and safety who played for the Oakland Raiders and the Green Bay Packers. Born in Fremont, Ohio, Woodson played football all of his life. All throughout high school his primary position was running back. In his senior year, he rushed for over 2,000 yards, winning the Ohio high school player of the year award. He was heavily recruited by many colleges at running back, but his dream school, Michigan, was one of the only schools to recruit him as a defensive back. He ended up committed to Michigan, and in two weeks he won the starting cornerback job as a freshman. He went on to have an amazing career at Michigan, and in 1997 he lead the Wolverines to a national championship. Drafted 4th overall, Woodson immediately contributed to the Raiders defense,winning defensive rookie of the year. However he had his best seasons in Green Bay, greatly increasing every single defensive category while on the team. In 2013 he rejoined the Raiders, and went on to retire as one of the greatest players of all time.”Charles Woodson is one of those players that comes along and reminds you why you love the game,” said General Manager Reggie McKenzie. “He is truly a one of a kind player that goes above and beyond his Heisman trophy and future gold jacket. It has been an honor to have worked alongside Charles for so many years and have the confidence to call him what he truly is: the G.O.A.T. He is, without a doubt, the embodiment of what it means to be a Raider.”

Born in Philadelphia, Bryant began playing basketball at the age of three years old. His father, Joe Bryant, played in the NBA for eight seasons, before moving to Italy to continue his professional career. While in Rieti Italy, Kobe learned to speak fluent Italian, and in his free time he studied numerous NBA teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers. The Bryant’s eventually moved back to Philidelphia in Kobe’s freshman year of high school. He attended Lower Merion High, and was starting on the varsity basketball team his freshman year. Over the course of time Kobe went on to win many awards including the Naismith High School Player of the Year Award, given to the number one basketball player of that class. Despite receiving numerous offers from historical schools such as Duke, and North Carolina, Kobe decided to enter the draft straight out of high school, becoming the first guard in history to do so. He went on the be drafted thirteenth over all, and was the last person to retire in his draft class. During his NBA tenure Kobe was widely known for his “Mamba mentality”. There was nobody who out worked him or wanted to win as much as he did. “Who’s starving more for an NBA World Championship more than Kobe Bryant? There is no one. This guy is highly motivated,” says Stephen A. Smith. Because of this mentality Kobe went on to have one of the best careers in NBA History, finishing third on the all time scoring list with five championships, eighteen all star game appearances, and one MVP award. This season he ended his NBA career in the most Kobe way possible, scoring 60 points in his last game as a Laker.

These two greats paved the way for many young athletes to follow in their footsteps and left a mark on sports that will never be forgotten. This year we said goodbye to two legends who wore the number 24.