Yesterday as my wife and I were having a coffee date I got a text from a friend that read “Have you heard about Kobe Bryant?” I had not, but I just assumed it was going to be some dumb story about LeBron passing him on the all-time scoring list. The next message I got caught me completely off guard. It was a link to a TMZ article claiming that Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash. I immediately start trying to find other sources to see if this is true. Eventually multiple sources started to report the same. I was in disbelief.
Usually if a celebrity or famous athlete dies, it doesn’t really affect me that much, but this was different. I had followed Kobe Bryant’s entire 20-year NBA career. From the time he was drafted out of high school to his farewell tour during his final NBA season in 2016, if Kobe was playing, more times than not, I was watching. I can remember all those big games he played and the huge moments he had during his career, whether it was the night he dropped 81 points in a game; tearing his achilles in a game and still going to the line and draining two free throws; or in his final NBA game dropping 60 points. His work ethic was unmatched. If you watched his short film ‘Dear Basketball,’ you understand what the game meant to him.
Kobe transcended the game of basketball, and that was never more apparent than yesterday. After news of his passing broke, the internet was full of people mourning him. Everyone from Donald Trump to Reese Witherspoon to Tom Brady posted on social media yesterday mourning the loss of Kobe. Throughout the rest of the day during events, Kobe was honored. The Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs started their game with a 24 second shot clock violation to honor him. The Atlanta Hawks young star Trae Young wore number 8 as a tribute to Kobe. Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made a statement that no Mavericks player will wear the number 24 again in honor of Kobe. Alicia Keys and Boyz II Men opened the Grammys with a tribute to Kobe, as well as other performers dedicating their performances to him. He was honored in so many ways yesterday that I couldn’t even keep up with all of them.
The news only got worse as the other victims of the crash were identified. It was revealed that Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna was also on board. My heart dropped after hearing this news. As a father, I understood that Kobe and the other father on board had to go through what I assume is every dad’s worst nightmare. They had to be there a knowing that not only was it unlikely they would survive the crash, but their daughters would not either. As a parent, you never want to feel helpless when it comes to your children, and I can only imagine that’s how they felt as they realized they were going to crash. Yesterday was a clear example that we’re not promised tomorrow. So do something good with the time you have here. My thoughts and prayers are with all families involved in this tragic accident.