First of all, I would be remissed to not acknowledge the 9 total lives lost in the Calabasas helicopter crash on January 26, 2020.
But this piece will focus on Kobe Bryant.
On Sunday, January 26th, 2020, it was confirmed that NBA legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash.
Many people do not know that the Los Angeles Lakers used to call the Forum their home arena before they eventually moved to the infamous Staples Center. For those who know their basketball history, the Forum was in Inglewood, CA. That is where Kobe Bryant started his Laker career. I happen to live right next to the Forum and know how much history came through it as well as the many icons who used to call it home. I grew up in Inglewood, which is apart of the greater city of Los Angeles. Just like my home city, the rest of the world is mourning. Purple and gold are drenching the entire world. Whether you were wearing the same jersey as him or sitting on the opposing bench, everyone is acknowledging the loss of one of basketball’s best players ever to play the game.
Every day, Kobe gave his heart and soul to the game he loved. Through infamous feuds, crushing defeats, and aching injuries, Kobe persevered and let his competitive spirit shine through. Coming straight out of Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia, Kobe had a twenty year career and delivered clutch shots, monster dunks, and iconic performances to not only the Los Angeles Lakers, but anyone who appreciated the pursuit of excellence in his craft. His final game will forever be remembered, scoring sixty points.
One of the most decorated players with 5 NBA Championships and unparalleled skills, he was more than the team name he wore on his chest. Kobe is and will always be influential. He took his work ethic much further than the court. A father to four daughters, he was a man who always promoted working hard and never giving up. He put in countless hours of tenacious work and is now remembered for his determination he put into every endeavor he took on.
Kobe embraced being a basketball ambassador in retirement. He vigorously supported his daughter Gigi’s love for basketball and bonded through sitting at NBA games courtside and coaching her team. He established Mamba Academy as a training outlet for the next generation of ballers, analyzed rising NBA stars through his ESPN series, Detail, and also stepped into his love of storytelling. He won an Academy Award in 2018 for his short film, “Dear Basketball”.
Remembering Kobe is complicated. He was perhaps a selfish player and not always the best leader. He had a reputation for taking too many shots. His beef with former teammate Shaquille O’Neal may have cost the Lakers titles. He was accused of sexual assault in a very public case that was dismissed in 2003.
No one should be punished for looking into Kobe’s life in its entirety including Gayle King, whose infamous clip was taken out of context in the grand scheme of the interview. Death does not remove the blemishes on one’s life. Death does put in perspective that Kobe is gone and the principles he exhibited on and off the court that impacted us can be remembered and adopted for our own lives.
The way he passed with his daughter, along with the seven other deceased, was a tragedy that shocked us to our core.
Kobe was not perfect and we should not dismiss his shortcomings and grievances. That does not mean we can’t grieve the inspiration he gave and the moments he made. Kobe’s legacy will live on forever and generations will know his name and the icon that he was.