SLAM PH 1-on-1: Kiefer talks about meeting Kobe up close

When Kiefer met Kobe, Kobe wasn’t a legend yet while Kiefer still needed to be carried. Now Kiefer is the one carrying teams on his back, living out the legend of the idol he met early in his life. Here’s his story about his infamous Kobe picture and how that encounter had a significant impact on his life.

SLAM PH: Talk us through that famous photo of you and Kobe from when you were a kid. What were you thinking? What did he say to you? What did you tell your classmates at school the next day?  

Kiefer Ravena: Well, to be honest, I had no idea who he was at that time. I was just there to watch my dad play with him. I had a chance to take a photo with him and that photo became one of my most prized possessions. Never really knew he would be the reason why I play the game the way I play it. 

Photo from Kiefer Ravena

SLAM PH: In college before you were The Phenom, people called you “Blue Mamba” What about that comparison resonated with you? Did it add pressure, did it motivate you? What about his game did you try to emulate?  

KR: Being called the Blue Mamba added pressure. I won’t lie. But that’s one thing I learned from him with our conversations throughout the years. You have to embrace it and cherish being on that stage because it can only last for a certain period of time. Probably one thing that I really tried to emulate with Kobe’s game is his fear of not losing. He will take that shot no matter what the outcome may be. If he makes it, he just moves on to the next game but if he misses, he learns and then moves on. 

SLAM PH: Now that you’re older, what about that first meeting, and your other encounters with Kobe, do you always look back to? What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from him?

KR: Most definitely. It’s different when he’s gone. So much life to live and lives to touch. He’s a story teller. He will tell you his experiences and hardships that made him the Kobe Bryant. I was one of the lucky ones who really had a chance to converse with him. Probably something that I try to live by from my experiences with Bean is just trying to be great at everything. Be competitive. Love the grind and hate losing. There’s so many things to learn from the late, great Kobe Bryant.