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Kobe Bryant: Tragic End to a Legendary Life

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Kobe Bryant
PHOTO | Noah Graham
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Retired NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, along with seven other people, were killed Sunday in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. He was only 41 years old.

The group of nine people boarded the helicopter at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, departing at 9:06 a.m. PST headed towards a practice session at Bryant’s Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California when visibility became an issue due to heavy fog. The helicopter crashed into the side of a mountain, killing all on board instantly and starting a small bush fire. 

Along with Bryant and his daughter, other casualties of the crash included Christina Mauser, Bryant’s girl’s team basketball coach, Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli, his wife Keri and their daughter Alyssa, Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton and Ara Zobayan, the helicopter’s pilot.   

First reported by TMZ, with the details later confirmed by other news outlets, the horrific accident takes a global basketball icon, renowned brand builder, successful venture capitalist and investor, philanthropist, filmmaker and media personality away from his wife Vanessa, his three surviving daughters and millions of NBA fans all over the world.

The news of Bryant’s tragic passing immediately sent shock waves around the sporting world, with athletes from all over the planet taking time out to honor Bryant and his legacy. 

NBA superstar LeBron James, a current LA Laker and admirer of Bryant, exited the team airplane visibly shaken after hearing the news, later giving a touching statement to the media. 

“It’s another guy that I looked up to when I was in grade school and high school,” said James. “Seeing him come straight out of high school, he is someone that I used as inspiration. It was like, wow. Seeing a kid, 17 years old, come into the NBA and trying to make an impact on a franchise, I used it as motivation. He helped me before he even knew of me because of what he was able to do. So just to be able to, at this point of my career, to share the same jersey that he wore, be with this historical franchise and just represent the purple and gold, it’s very humbling, and it’s dope.

“Kobe’s a legend. That’s for damn sure.”

James had just passed Bryant for third on the all-time NBA top scorers list the night before in Philadelphia, the city Bryant played in high school before entering the league. Bryant sat in the front row with his daughter Gianna, a talented basketball player in her own right, and his last tweet was a congratulation to King James for his accomplishment. 

Soccer superstars like Leonel Messi, David Beckham and Christiano Ronaldo all posted tributes to Bryant to their hundreds of millions of Instagram followers, fans flooded the outside of the Staples Center with Lakers merchandise and flowers to pay tribute and teams around the league took 8 and 24-second violations to start the game in honor of Bryant’s two numbers, 8 and 24.

Perhaps the most tragic part of Bryant’s passing is the clear plan he had for the second chapter of his career after basketball. In the short three and a half years since his retirement from the NBA, Bryant became an advocate for women’s basketball, won an Academy Award for his short film “Dear Basketball,” the best-selling author of “The Mamba Mentality” and a dedicated father and family man all at the same time. 

Rest in peace, Kobe. Gone but never forgotten.   

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Ricky Williams Will Be Sparking Greatness With His Highsman x Jeeter Collab on Super Bowl Sunday

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Highsman x Jeeter

Ricky Williams made it possible for a generation of athletes to successfully challenge the NFL’s draconian prohibition of cannabis. The Heisman Trophy winner and former running back changed the perception of cannabis in the NFL, bringing in a new era in which the league has stopped drug testing players for cannabis. This paved the way for the league to recently donate $1 million to research how the plant’s medicinal properties could actually help players deal with pain and provide neuroprotection from concussion.

Williams credits smoking cannabis as a way of overcoming the challenges associated with being a professional athlete, from social anxiety to physical injuries. Since retiring from football, Williams has studied herbalism and alternative holistic therapies, intertwined with the healing properties of cannabis. His first line of cannabis wellness products, Real Wellness fused cannabis with herbal extracts like lavender and turmeric.

In 2021, Williams released his new venture, Highsman, a cannabis lifestyle brand “created to empower professional and everyday athletes as well as sports enthusiasts alike.” And a great play on words, too.

Ricky Williams in the Highsman grow room. PHOTO | Supplied

Highsman is an appreciation for greatness and an appreciation for cannabis. When I started experimenting with it recreationally, I became very reflective and a lot of the time the things I was reflecting on didn’t feel good to me. But through that inner reflection, I started making changes in myself– I realized that there was more to me than just being a football player, and it created an urge to start developing those other sides of myself. It was, and still is, my appreciation for cannabis that helped me to realize my potential for greatness outside the game of football. 

Highsman features three curated by Williams to compliment moments in the day and put you in the zone. Pre-Game is a Sativa for an energized boost; Half-Time is a hybrid for focused awareness, and the Post-Game Indica offers a relaxed mood.

Just in time for Super Bowl LVI, Highsman has teamed up with Jeeter, the number one cannabis pre-roll brand in the country, on a limited-edition run of cannabis and apparel products.

Cannabis Aficionado caught up with Williams for a quick huddle to find out what the iconic athlete will be doing this Super Bowl Sunday.

The Highsman x Jeeter collab. PHOTO | Supplied

CA: What brought on your partnership with Jeeter?

We partnered with Jeeter because they are a brand at the top of their game. Their dedication to greatness makes them an ideal partner for Highsman. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that, aside from Highsman, Jeeter is one of my top choices when I visit the dispensary.

Where are you watching the Superbowl and who with?

I am watching the Superbowl at the Jeeter house in LA with Jeeter co-founders Sebastian Solano and Lukasz Tracz, and the amazing Highsman team including CEO Eric Hammond and Marketing Director Lane Radbill.  

What are you smoking?

Sticky Ricky from the Highsman x Jeeter collab!

What are you eating and drinking?

I eat light pregame… a fruit smoothie, yogurt, assorted fruit, and a little honey.

What were your pre-game rituals?

I had a whole meditation routine. 12 sun salutations, pranayama, twin hearts meditation (heart-opening meditation), and then off to the stadium.

Who do you think will win Superbowl LVI?

I’m just hoping for a good game, but I picked the Rams to win in the Highsman bracket challenge, so I’m going to root for the home team.

Merch from the Highsman x Jeeter collab. PHOTO | Supplied

Find your nearest Highsman x Jeeter stockist here.

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Sports

Tom Brady Is Officially Retiring from the NFL

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Tom Brady Retires

Tom Brady has announced his retirement from the NFL, writing on Instagram on Tuesday that he is “not going to make that competitive commitment anymore.”

“I have always believed the sport of football is an ‘all-in’ proposition — if a 100% competitive commitment isn’t there, you won’t succeed, and success is what I love so much about our game,” Brady said in his statement on Instagram. “There is a physical, mental and emotional challenge EVERY single day that has allowed me to maximize my highest potential. And I have tried my very best these past 22 years. There are no shortcuts to success on the field or in life.

“This is difficult for me to write, but here it goes: I am not going to make that competitive commitment anymore. I have loved my NFL career, and now it is time to focus my time and energy on other things that require my attention. I’ve done a lot of reflecting the past week and have asked myself difficult questions. And I am so proud of what we have achieved. My teammates, coaches, fellow competitors, and fans deserve 100% of me, but right now, it’s best I leave the field of play to the next generation of dedicated and committed athletes.”

Brady’s announcement comes three days after it was originally reported that he would be hanging up his illustrious cleats. Brady had yet to officially commit one way or the other, insisting on “going through the process” during his most recent appearance on his podcast. The outcome of that process was announced on Tuesday.

The legendary sportsman retires after an astounding 22 NFL seasons, 20 with the Patriots and two with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in which he had the most individual success of any player in NFL history. Tom Brady was a 15-time Pro Bowler, three-time AP MVP, three-time first-team All-Pro, and the all-time leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and quarterback victories.

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High Fighting: Jiu-Jitsu Meets Cannabis

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PHOTO | High Rollerz

The relationship between recreational marijuana and sports has historically been contentious, and MMA leagues in the United States are no exception. Because of how long weed lingers in the bloodstream, many fighters who follow the rule of not smoking during competitive periods nonetheless test positive. Superstar UFC athletes who have tested positive for marijuana (like Nick Diaz) have faced harsh penalties, including fines and even suspensions or bans from competition, thanks to this law.

High Rollerz co-founders Matt Staudt and Big Lonn Howard have chosen to put together a cannabis-infused jiu-jitsu tournament where some of the sport’s elite athletes get high with their opponent before competing – and where the winner’s grand prise is a pound of pot.

Peep the Vice documentary below.

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