January 26th 2020
With the sports world currently on a pause, and stations playing back highlights over the years, I’ve had time to think about the the sports year so far, and January 26th is a day that will never go overlooked. A day that shook not just the sports world, but the entire world. On the morning of, no one wants to believe the headlines, many of us can’t even get through reading the entire headline before stopping just in sheer disbelief. I remember when the news was shared with me I laughed and said “Kobe? Kobe Bryant? It has to be a hoax, Kobe can’t die”. The man we’ve seen literally pop his limbs back into place, just to get back into the game to carry his team on his back to a victory. For much of his basketball career he was described as “not human”.
There is a difference between losing something, and having something taken from you, and nothing epitomizes this more than the tragic death of Kobe Bryant. Even as I type it out, I cannot believe it. I won’t believe it. That January day was spent in disbelief, shock, and quite frankly being an emotional wreck. I didn’t know how to feel or what to say until 6pm on my drive home. I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I let out a deep and emotional yell from behind the wheel as my eyes flooded with tears. I just shouted out my anger, sadness, confusion.
A man who embodied what it meant to be “superhuman”, taken. He was the super hero who would put on his uniform and somehow save the day. The game winning shot, a come-back from a 20 point deficit. Never crumbling under pressure. He conducted himself like a true master of his craft.
Kobe Bryant’s death rocked the world, and shattered people on that Sunday morning. He was a polarizing player that people either loved or hated, there was never a middle ground. He was not perfect, after all he’s just a man, and what man is perfect. But we all respected what he brought to the game, and he never cheated us in his performance. We all felt an inexplicable sense of emptiness inside, that many of us had never felt before. Men, women and kids just breaking down into tears because that was the only way we could express what we were feeling. As tweeted by Lamar Odom, if there was anyone on this planet who we would expect to land on their feet in a crash, it was Kobe. Yet the world lost an icon, a hero to a city, an ambassador to a sport, a signature fadeaway, a mamba mentality…the list goes on. As the year progresses, the wound doesn’t close, and it shouldn’t. Kobe etched his name in the history books, in our hearts and in the highlight reels of our minds. And that will live on forever.
In the wake of all of this it is easy to get caught up in OUR loss, and OUR feelings. And while we take time to mourn the passing of a truly great man taken too soon, we can’t lose sight of the fact that Vanessa Bryant lost her soulmate and her daughter in this tragic event. A family 20 years in the making, ripped at the seams in a matter of hours. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers are with Vanessa always as she traverses this unknown path she couldn’t have ever imagined having to walk.
Among many things, Kobe was a five time champion with the Lakers, and in Kobe-like nature, he never stopped chasing ring number six. On this day of reflection, I truly believe he had this sixth ring all along with Vanessa. Outside of basketball, his family was his greatest accomplishment. Vanessa was his queen, and the ring he proudly wore everyday that married him to her, was the 6th ring he so actively coveted. A model husband, a proud father, a fierce competitor, a champion. Even in his passing, Kobe continues to unite us, a sign that the Mamba Mentality will live on forever. Rest In Peace with your 6 rings Kobe.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love and is republished here with permission from the author.
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Photo credit: Amar Jeer