Thanks To Kobe Kat Tan Defied The Disabilities In Living The Mamba Life

Not even the loss of a vital body part could stop Kat Tan from chasing her dreams on and off the court, as she tells her hoop stories as the One-Armed Mamba when the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas got her on deck for the third episode of Women in Charge Friday last week.

In fact, it was not even her first love.

“For me, I really didn’t see myself playing basketball on the court with two hands,” she told host Bea Daez-Fabros that her first sport was tennis.

With his father being a sports enthusiast, the love of playing for fun also got into her.

“Growing up, sports was really part of household,” she then said. “Every morning or late night, yung channel ng TV namin nasa sports siya.”

The former De La Salle Zobel standout retold her trauma of that unfortunate accident that cost her the left arm, as well as surviving and thriving from it to become one of the awe-inspiring stories in the realm of women’s basketball that is emerging in the country by leaps and bounds for the past decade, most notably her viral moment in front of his idol.

Having being a daredevil in her childhood, it was natural for Tan to enjoy the thrills of it.

“I was literally enjoying life,” she recalled, as every 90s kid will tell that they only have school work to contend with.

It was way back in 1996 when she was ten years young, and she was riding those carnival attractions when disaster struck, but the amputation led her to discover the game of basketball even more.

“I was very conscious the whole time,” Tan added as she told the gruesome details. “Siguro malaking bagay yung nakita ko na wala na siya. Because instantly, I already accepted the situation.”

“It wasn’t hard for me. From that point on, I knew that my life would change.”

And it was one day at the hospital that she learned about the late Kobe Bryant, with the accident came by coincidence, his rookie season in the NBA.

From then on, the mentality of Bean went through the system of the One-Armed Mamba, and it became her inspiration in everything in what she does on and off the court for the Lady Junior Archers.

“The awards were just an extra achievement,” she then said. “But for me, it’s a symbol of my hard work.”

Aside from the accolades, her fascination with Bryant and emulating his work ethic was justly rewarded with the rare chance to meet the Black Mamba personally when the Laker legend visited the country for the final time five years ago.

Back then, Tan was aged thirty when she got her opportunity to take part in the training camp which Kobe himself facilitated. And she even took time off basketball when she was in college, after her stellar career in Zobel.

“I deserve to meet him that time,” referring to the third time she saw the Mamba in the flesh, in which she took part in the tryouts that began at 4 o’clock in the morning, the same time that Kobe begins his work out.

With the rigorous process, Kat Tan was lucky to be one of the 24 players out of the 800 prospects. But that’s just the start, because it was at that camp that she showed to the Black Mamba how cold-blooded she was, when she hit the top of the key triple, under immense pressure.

Looking back at the moments with him more than a year since his untimely passing, she was just more than blessed to see him and apply the lifestyle his basketball inspiration had taken.

“What it took for me is confidence in myself, that I can do it no matter what. I never would have imagined my life and my career to have gotten this far,” she explained. “I just followed my heart and I just did it.”
PHOTO: KAT TAN/The One Armed Mamba