Vanessa Bryant on Kobe's New YA Book and How He Aimed to Teach 'Lessons about Life and Emotions'
Legacy and the Double will hit shelves on Aug 24, National Kobe Bryant Day
Kobe Bryant was many things: basketball star, devoted father and husband, Oscar winner - and thanks to a creatively prolific post-NBA career, a New York Times best-selling author.
His latest book, Legacy and the Double, a sports-fantasy novel and second in the popular middle grade "Legacy" series, will be released on August 24, to align with National Kobe Bryant Day. Created by Bryant and written by former pro squash player-turned-novelist Annie Matthew, the title is the latest offering from Granity Studios, Kobe's multi-media original content company now helmed by his wife, Vanessa Bryant.
"I'm so proud we [Granity Studios] were able to have Legacy and the Double come out," Vanessa tells PEOPLE. "These books filled with valuable lessons and stories were really important to my husband. He felt it was important to teach kids lessons about life and emotions through the art of storytelling."
Vanessa celebrated the release on Instagram, noting that the book, "reflects the 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 continues the story of Legacy Petrin, a national tennis champion who doesn't necessarily feel like one and must dig deep into her famous magical inner light and persevere through challenges to ultimately triumph and reclaim her identity.
Kobe's commitment to inspiring young athletes and uplifting young readers is an enduring legacy for the late NBA star, who died in a helicopter crash in Jan. 26, 2020, which also claimed the lives of his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others.
Author Annie Matthew, who also worked with Kobe on the 2019 best-selling novel, Legacy and the Queen, feels grateful to have experienced Kobe's unbridled passion and creativity up close.
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"Kobe was, by far, the most inspiring collaborator I've ever had: his commitment, his vision, and his creativity were beyond anything I'd ever experienced," Matthew tells PEOPLE. "When he came to me with these characters and this world, and the idea of inspiring kids to become the greatest versions of themselves by acknowledging and fully feeling all their emotions, I was so grateful to be given a role in the project."
Like others given the opportunity to collaborate with Kobe along the way, Matthew was amazed by the level of his involvement and attention to detail. "At that point, I could not have imagined that Kobe Bryant would want to talk for hours every day about enchanted forests, leopard-wolves, and rackets strung with dreams," she says. "But my collaboration with him turned into something I will cherish for the rest of my life. He was a creative genius, and I hope kids all over the world will get access to these books into which he poured all his heart and energy."
This echoes sentiments shared by Wesley King, Bryant's friend and collaborator on both the 2019 young-adult novel Training Camp and Season One, the second best-seller in their sports fantasy "Wizenard" series, which came out in 2020.
Floored by Kobe's "boundless energy" and his round-the-clock dedication to storytelling, King told PEOPLE last year that the star "was really focused on changing kids' lives and empowering the next generation of young athletes, especially females."
"It almost sounds cliché, but he'd say, 'If one kid picks this book up and finds the faith in himself to persevere, we did our job … We're doing this for that one kid. Kobe really believed that."
King is grateful Bryant left such a vibrant legacy that can inspire the generations to come. "His words, which he was able to thankfully leave in innumerable interviews and also in his books, films and stories, and his legacy are going to live on," he told PEOPLE.
"He would take great solace that his mission is still being accomplished."
Legacy and the Double is available for preorder now.
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