Chris Huerta is 26 years old, a huge fan of Kobe Bryant, and he says 170 pounds lighter than he was when the Black Mamba last graced the floor at the Staples Center.
Down 170 lbs since @kobebryant 's last game. Took it one day at time with that #MambaMentality. Happy #Ko8be24 !! #KobeWeek #KobeBryant #Ko8e24ِ #LakeShow @Lakers @JeanieBuss @geeter3 @LAIreland @ @ramonashelburne @LakersReporter #bestever pic.twitter.com/FeW0245MjC— Chris Huerta (@Huertaweightgo) December 18, 2017
Huerta was outside Staples Center on April 14, 2016, when all the hoopla surrounding Bryant’s final game took over L.A. That’s where he took the picture that would go viral nearly two years later. Huerta had a lot else on his mind, though.
Just two weeks earlier, Huerta said that someone close to him was jailed. On that same day, he says one of his friends took his own life.
“I was kind of in a dark place for about two months after that period,” Huerta told SB Nation on a phone call. “Even after Kobe’s last game.”
But a friend reached out shortly after, he said, to show him exercises and helped change his diet. “I wanted to show my family If I can do it, anybody can do it,” Huerta said. “To me, weight loss isn’t about helping yourself, it’s about helping others.”
Huerta began seeing success after just five weeks. He says he lost 35 pounds by changing his diet and sticking to his workout routine. He was finally getting the results he wanted. What changed? Huerta says he adopted the Mamba’s mentality.
42 weeks of hard work! Can't wait to weigh in tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/4NAEnpUgVI— Chris Huerta (@Huertaweightgo) April 7, 2017
“[Kobe] would talk about how looking at the nine-month rehab process is overwhelming. And that’s how I’ve always thought about losing weight. Saying ‘Oh I’m going to lose over 100 pounds. How do I do that?’ It’s extremely difficult. I tried it before and it never really worked out.
“Kobe always had the message of ‘Control what you can control today.’ So if I can only do 10 minutes of cardio, a 10-minute workout, and some stretching, that’s fine. I’ll build on that the next day. I’ll work at it and work at until I get to where I want to go.”
So that’s what Huerta did. He says he would go to the gym as early as 5 a.m. after hearing that was what Bryant used to do to get a mental edge over everyone else.
Huerta remembers his thoughts from around the time he attended Bryant’s farewell celebration. It was a turning point for him.
“I was sitting at a Taco Bell drive-thru,” Huerta said, “and I was like: ‘Why am I here?’ I’m going to be here again tomorrow. A lot of it was just exhaustion. I was exhausted with being fat.”
Now Huerta is not only in incredible shape, but he says he’s helped his brother lose more than 40 pounds.
And as Bryant’s jerseys were retired in Staples Center, Huerta saw it as a monumental moment to not only the franchise, but to Huerta himself.
As for the No. 24 vs. No. 8 debate, that’s an easy one for him.
“Looking back when I started [losing weight] I was 24 so I guess it was symbolic,” he said. “I’m going 24, the Black Mamba for sure. The Black Mamba is the more philosophical side and that’s the side I attach myself to.”