I’ll be honest; I wasn’t a fan of Kobe Bryant. Not for any reason in particular; I’m just not a huge basketball fan. With that being said, I have posted a lot about Kobe since his passing. I’m not hopping on some bandwagon, and I still don’t know a lot about who he was and what he did for the world. But I’ll explain what has happened since January 26, 2020.
I remember getting on Facebook and seeing just one shared post: TMZ announcing that Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter accident. Immediately I assumed that it was a sick joke and thought TMZ was about to get ripped a new one for this fake news. I clicked on the link and the page wouldn’t load, even furthering my suspicion that this was a hoax. I then googled his name because surely if this were true, it would’ve been on google by now. Still nothing. So, I went back to Facebook and refreshed my newsfeed one more time. The posts began to flood in.
Immediately I was engulfed in this search for the “truth.” Because there was no way I was believing a headline that read: “Kobe Bryant dies at 41 in Helicopter Crash.” How in the world could that be true? You might be wondering why someone who wasn’t a fan and didn’t know him personally would care so much. I was wondering the same. But as the tragic news was confirmed, I instantly felt the heaviness of the world. I saw many people say they were logging off social media because of the overwhelming amount of posts about this. As much as I wanted to do the same, I was trapped in a wormhole.
This past week, I have tortured myself with video after video, and story after story of the life of Kobe Bryant. And here is what I’ve learned:
Kobe loved the game of basketball with everything inside of him. Despite the MJ versus Kobe debates heard all around the world for the past 20 years, Kobe always made it very clear that he knew how talented he was and that he loved winning, but also that true greatness came from teaching the next generation to be their best and to do better than the generation before. This was most evident in the way he was a parent to his children—a #GirlDad.
One of the most heartbreaking parts of this story is that Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, was also on the helicopter. He loved all his daughters vastly, but Gigi…she would carry out his legacy. I believe she would’ve made the WBNA more popular than it’s ever been and done so much more with her life. I saw the footage of the crash and the scenarios in my mind were endless. In life, Kobe was always portrayed as confident and fearless, but in those final moments…could he possibly have held it together as he knew what was about to happen? I prayed that was the case. The thought alone makes my heart ache immensely.
I learned that Kobe was funny, generous, loving, diligent, passionate, and driven. He cared about his family, his friends, his teammates, important causes, and people. I learned that his legacy went way beyond the basketball court. As I have searched and searched to see more of about his life, I am sad that I wasn’t a fan. I’m sad that I didn’t know more when he was still alive. Because I would’ve wanted to meet this man, even if from a far. A bucket list item for sure.
I also learned, on a deeper level, that people are cruel. Everyone always wants something to argue about. People tried to downplay the impact of Kobe’s death for many different reasons. I heard stories about him, specifically those surrounding sexual assault allegations. I am no judge. I am not the girl who accused him. I do not know the truth. But I do know that Kobe was not too far gone for God’s grace and redemption. And I pray that such an amazing man knew THAT truth.
And Vanessa Bryant…still on her two feet by the strength of God alone. I cannot imagine the pain. To lose the love of your life and your child, in an instant. All I could do is cry and pray. I hope we all are praying. For the families, and for our own healing. Because here’s the things…I cannot understand such a tragedy. It is so hard to sit with. When I say it out loud, there’s a twinge of pain that shocks my chest. A friend texted me the next night and said, “After this tragedy, I found myself asking God ‘why?’” I was right there with him. We had a conversation and I referenced the verse Philippians 4:7, “The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” I knew it was the right thing to tell him, even though I was wrestling with the same question.
As our conversation continued, he mentioned one of our friends that passed away, and as heartbreaking as that loss was, I was able to see the light in all of this. After our friend passed away, many of our other friends turned their lives around for the better. Many friendships were made or restored. The community began to change, little by little. I said to him, “[Our friend] changed a lot of people’s lives. His life and story…although we miss him, his legacy lives on and still is changing lives. I believe that. And Kobe’s life and death will do the same, ALL OVER THE WORLD! It’s so unfortunate that it had to be this way. But think about the chaos this world has been in lately. All the hate and craziness. The world froze yesterday. Everyone felt it. And yes, there are still a bunch of haters, but mostly people were brought together. And people are going to fight to honor Kobe. To make him proud, just like we do for [our friend]. And that’s a beautiful thing, even in the sorrow.”
This message was for him. But then I realized it was God speaking to me. This is the peace that I can rest in. I hope we can all rest in it. Although we will continue to cry and be heartbroken, we also get to smile and laugh at the memories he gave to the world and be inspired. To have the Mamba Mentality and to work to be the best parents and people we can be. To hold our loved ones close and cherish all the moments. Because as we all know, life is short, and tomorrow isn’t promised.
In 2017 Kobe wrote, “Be sad. Be mad. Be frustrated. Scream. Cry. Sulk. When you wake up you will think it was just a nightmare only to realize it’s all too real. You will be angry and wish for the day back…But reality gives nothing back and nor should you.” So, I hope that we can all feel what we feel and embrace this pain and grow stronger because of it. Not falling backward or feeling hopeless, but moving forward to be better humans in every way.
I didn’t need to be a Kobe fan to understand how much this hurts. To empathize with every die hard fan, family member, friend, and man who shared the court with him. This loss has been felt around the world. I am praying for God’s peace and comfort for all as we mourn the legend, Kobe Bryant.💜💛