Exclusive: Annie Matthew wrote the book, which was created by the late NBA legend and is being released on National Kobe Bryant Day
Kobe Bryant was a transformational figure whose legacy as a father, husband, NBA champion, Oscar winner, and author continues to be an indelible part of the culture’s fabric.
National Kobe Bryant Day is being celebrated on Tuesday in honor of the late NBA legend. It also coincides with the release of Legacy and the Double, a sports fantasy young adult book about a gifted tennis champion, Legacy Petrin, who doesn’t quite feel her greatness and now has to contend with an imposter.
It is the second book in the ‘Legacy’ series, created by Bryant and written by squash player-turned-novelist Annie Matthew. Legacy and the Double is the follow-up to the 2019 No. 1 New York Times best-selling novel, Legacy and the Queen.
“Kobe called me on a Tuesday morning and was like, ‘I have this idea for a book.’ And I thought it was a prank phone call because why would Kobe Bryant be calling me on a Tuesday morning?” Matthew recalls to theGrio.
(Credit: Granity Studios)
Matthew recounts how Bryant outlined his characters and their purposes before their first conversation. There was no detail he did not pay attention to. His raw talents weren’t just on the court.
“He plotted out outlines and had created this world full of different countries, and with its own economy and its own political problems. It was just incredible to me how fully he had imagined this whole other universe and how fully he had imagined all the characters who lived in it,” she says.
The Black Mamba was integral at every stage of the book and the process was far from a vanity project. He was passionate and expected the same in return.
“He was the lifeblood of this project for sure. This was definitely not one of these projects where a ghostwriter is doing everything,” Matthew declares.
Bryant trusted Matthew to bring his vision to life.
“He always said, ‘this is my baby and I’m giving her to you to take care of,’” Matthew remembers.
Bryant tragically died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020, alongside his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others. His death came before he could review the final drafts of Legacy and the Double, a title being offered by Granity Studios.
Bryant formed the multi-media original content company. His wife, Vanessa Bryant, is now the president. Matthew says that Vanessa and a previous editor offered guidance on the final drafts.
“Vanessa read several drafts of the project and gave really detailed and thoughtful notes. And so, it didn’t feel as though I was suddenly on my own on this thing that I had been collaborating with him on,” she explains.
Vanessa recently shared her excitement about the book on Instagram and that it reflected “philosophies @KobeBryant cared about so much – carrying on a legacy and dream in the face of life’s most difficult moments and sharing wisdom with those who come after you.”
Legacy and the Double aims to uplift and inspire young athletes, in particular girls and young women. Matthew believes the message will resonate because the Los Angeles Laker was committed to those ideals.
“He had this vision that he was going to write a book to show young girls playing sports that they would become the greatest versions of themselves, not only by accepting the parts of themselves that the world said were good, like their generosity,” she says.
“But by accepting all the parts of themselves, including their anger and including their selfishness and including their desire to succeed themselves. I just found that so inspiring.”
Matthew spoke of her own experience as a young athlete.
“I grew up playing sports and I always felt as though everyone in my private life, or in my personal life, was telling me to be sweet and nice. Then I was playing sports, [and] they were telling me to be like driven and fierce,” she recounts.
“It always felt like a sort of conflict. I felt bad when I was being a driven person. It always felt so painful to me.”
Matthew feels Bryant tapped into that.
“I just found it really inspiring that he wanted to get that message out in such a sort of beautifully illustrated way,” she says.
Matthew tells theGrio that the book is an important one in her collaborator’s legacy. She’s appreciative to have been a part of his creative genius.
“I do think of him every day and I am grateful; grateful that I got to know him because I think he was really an inspiring person,” Matthew says.
Legacy and the Double is now available for purchase in stores and online.
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