It took me a few days to get my words down. My heart is full of such sorrow and sadness as I’m sure yours is as well. Since Sunday, I have been scrolling throughout social media trying to find some healing for that feeling of emptiness from hearing that Kobe Bryant has passed away.
There is no solution for filling that void at the moment.
We were treated with greatness for the entirety of Kobe’s career and we were anticipating to see greatness following his retirement. Everything about his career was poetry. From the trade that brought him to the Lakers on draft night, until his very last game at Staples Center where he hit 60 points in a win against the Jazz.
I’m not a Lakers fan, but that particular game alone was so emotional for me. It was for all of us NBA fans.
Many of us grew up watching Kobe Bryant and even if he wasn’t your favorite player, he made an impact on your life if you fell in love with the game of basketball. Kobe’s name was one that you would hear on the courts every single day. Whether it was someone taking a tough fade-away, going to a patented Kobe move, or from taking a really dumb shot and hearing a teammate yell…
“Bro, what you doin takin that shot, you ain’t Kobe!!”
From the courts to every day life, he made an impact on all of our lives. He showed us that if you put in the work, no goal was unreachable. He received doubts and I’m sure he was told time and time again growing up, especially in the Philly area, that the NBA is an unattainable goal.
That didn’t matter to Kobe.
As I sit here with this pit in the middle of my stomach, trying to find some solace in podcasts (The Jenkinz and Jonez one was fantastic), highlights, and tribute videos, I still feel lost. Lost in a way that I have never felt lost before from a celebrity’s death.
What we have to understand is that Kobe was no celebrity. He was happiness for many and he WAS basketball. It didn’t matter that many of us hadn’t met Kobe before in real life, because we connected with him in more meaningful ways:
Through the game of basketball and through life.
The Mamba mentality was not a basketball related term, but rather a term we used in our every day life to pursue the goals we set out for ourselves. And he passed along that mentality and knowledge to people with their own personal fights.
Kobe Bryant wasn’t someone who publicized the charitable and sweet things he did for children and people all around the world. Now, we are getting the chance to see some of the sweet things he has done for people.
When his mother, a huge Lakers fan, was diagnosed with cancer, Kobe sent her a message and kept her in his prayers.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 29, 2020
Wow wow wow! pic.twitter.com/xyXXzyUqxj
— #Truthbetold (@truemira) January 28, 2020
Kobe wasn’t a perfect human being by any means, but he showed us that you can still live a good life and be a good person even if you’ve made horrible mistakes in your life. He was the light for all of us to look up to and be able to tell ourselves that we can change the path we are on.
Not everyone was a fan of Kobe Bryant on the court. If you were a Celtics fan, a fan of Shaq in that battle, or just a fan of a different team, there’s a more than good chance that you were not a fan of his. But, there was something about him that drew you close to him. Maybe it was the competitiveness within us or the fact that you appreciated greatness, either way you had respect for Kobe’s game. There was a different type of comfort that came from watching him play, it’s hard to explain.
That is why all of us are hurting. You don’t need to hide your emotions or feel different for feeling sadness even though you didn’t know Kobe on a personal level. He was our childhood. He was our love, which is the game of basketball.
Now, that love is not lost. We feel the pain of losing a loved one, but Kobe lives on through many:
If you want to see Kobe, he’s all around us. He’s Devin Booker’s post up game. He’s Demar DeRozan’s footwork. He’s Kyrie Irving’s clear out and let me go 1 on 5 mentality. He’s LeBron’s leadership. He’s Luka Dončić, Trae Young, and so many others’ emerging stardom. He is eternal.
— Tyler (@TylerAtoms) January 27, 2020
I was just at the courts the other day and as soon as I sit down to start stretching, I begin to watch these kids playing what we used to refer as 21. On Twitter, there was a vocal campaign being passed around that we should play 24 instead of 21 to honor Kobe. I thought nothing of it initially outside of it being a nice tribute. But, when I saw these kids say out loud that they were going to go to 24 for Kobe, I nearly lost it.
Don’t think because Kobe was a perfectionist that he wouldn’t want you to be emotional. Kobe Bryant was someone who wanted you always to be real to yourself and to others. We all have our faults and we all have our struggles as Kobe surely did. Take the time you need to get through this difficult time. He meant something very different to each one of us.
Kobe Bryant is living on through us all. Through the Mamba Mentality, we have the drive to be better in all aspects of life. It seems like while this is a horrific tragedy, it has brought all of us as a community together. All races, all ages, all genders. We are unified in appreciating the player and person that Kobe became.
You are not alone in your mourning and it is our job to now live our own life based off of the values Kobe instilled towards the end of his career and post-retirement. It’s time for us to write our own poem.