On January 26, 2020 around 3:00 pm I was standing in the check out line at Walmart. Like I do often, as I’m sure most of us do when we’re waiting in line to pay for our items, I pulled out my phone to mindlessly scroll through social media. One of the very first post I saw said “Kobe Bryant Died in A Helicopter Crash.” Now this was just a post someone had written, it wasn’t accompanied by a news article or anything else that made it seem factual, so my immediate thought was, that’s not true. I pay for my items and head to my next destination, Giant. While standing at the seafood counter, an older lady next to me, said Kobe Bryant died. So, I asked her was it indeed true, and she proceeded to show me the alert on her phone from one of the news outlets. Now even after seeing it from a creditable news outlet, I still didn’t want to believe it. So I leave Giant and I’m thinking to myself, if this is true they’ll be talking about it on the radio, sure enough, as soon as I get into my car and turn it on, that was the first thing I heard. So now at this point, I have no choice but to believe it.
I drive home, take my groceries out the car and turn the TV to CNN because I know they would be reporting about it nonstop. As I suspected, CNN didn’t disappoint. It was all they were talking about, and yet for some reason I still didn’t want to believe it. I just couldn’t believe it. Now I’m going to be honest here, I’m not a huge basketball fan, I’ll watch a game here or there, and I wasn’t a huge Kobe Bryant fan. Being from Philadelphia, I got caught up in the not liking Kobe Bryant phase when I was younger. However, the older I became I had to respect the man for the pure basketball genius that he was. He scored 81 points in one game for crying out loud, no way I can ignore that. As I am not a huge basketball fan, and was not a huge Kobe Bryant fan, I am shocked at how much his death has affected me. I literally was fighting back tears as I continued to watch CNN report the story all day. I was genuinely hurting. I was in shock and disbelief. I think that’s one of the main reasons it hurts so bad, because it was so unexpected, so tragic, and so sudden. He was only 41 years old; I was just 41 two years ago. Maybe that’s another variable, we’re in the same age group so I feel like I grew up with him. I remember him being drafted straight out of high school; I remember him taking Brandy on his prom. I remember when he got married. He was much more apart of my life than I ever realized. I’ve been around long enough to see other celebrities die, Michael Jackson, Whitney House, Prince, just to name a few, and I didn’t feel like this when they died. Yes, it’s sad to see any one die, but that’s just it, when they died, I was just sad, Kobe Bryant died, and I’m hurt.
I’m hurt for his family, his wife, his remaining 3 daughters, his parents, his sisters, his former teammates, and everyone who knew him personally. I’m hurt for all he will no longer be able to do, and all the world will miss out on because he’s no longer here. Since his death I’ve been watching YouTube videos of his past interviews and I was ignorant to his greatness. He was a great man on and off the court. I had no idea that he was an author, or that he won an Oscar. I didn’t know that he had the Mamba Sports Academy, where he trained his daughter and other young athletes. I was unaware of how dedicated he was to anything he did, not just basketball. In watching his interviews I’ve since developed such a deep appreciation for his passion, his drive, and his commitment to excellence. I now know how precise he was, and how much attention he paid to details. He even learned how to tap dance to strengthen his ankles. He studied the game of basketball, even by reading the referees manual. Now if that’s not dedication I don’t know what is.
In one of the interviews I watched he said he just wants to be an inspiration to others, and he certainly has inspired me. 2020 is my year of intention, and I haven’t seen a life lived more intentionally than Mr. Kobe Bean Bryant, now that’s intentional living at his finest. I am now deeply inspired by him, I am now deeply inspired to study my craft, and be the best me that I can be. When I hear him talk, all I hear is dedication. I hear a commitment to excellence that is unparalleled. Although his life was cut drastically short, I am happy that his life had such a huge impact on the world. He accomplished a lot in 41 short years, and he’s ignited a fire in me to accomplish all my dreams. Kobe has certainly inspired me to be committed to excellence just as he was.
My only regret is not knowing his greatness and his genius while he was here. Although I would have never gotten a chance to know him personally, I wish I knew him more intimately while he was here. I wish I knew he won an Oscar when it happened so I could have shared in that moment with him even from afar. I regret not knowing how awesome of a father he was while he was here. I regret not being able to see how big of a personality he was. I wish that I was able to relish in his greatness while he was alive. That happens all too often in life, we take people and life for granted. We think we always have tomorrow, and the sad truth is that tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. I’m sure, just like the rest of us when we leave our homes for the day, we think it’s a given that we’ll return. I’m sure Kobe, GiGi, and the 7 others thought they would be home for Sunday dinner later that day. I can’t imagine that any of them thought that day would be their last. We take life for granted; we live in vain as if each day can’t be our last day. We all are going to die one day; we just don’t know the day nor the hour. I hope this tragedy moves us forward and propels us all to be better. Love on one another, enjoy life, and most importantly, make the world a better place because you were here. That’s the rent we pay for living on earth, the world should be a better place because you were here.