After waking up and receiving a heart wrenching text message stating: ‘Apparently Kobe Bryant just died in a helicopter crash,’ followed by a series of sad emoji’s, I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that one of the world’s greatest basketball players was no longer alive.
It is likely that one of the things that stuns us the most when a celebrity dies is the fact that they die too, and for some reason, we believe that because public figures have achieved so much in their lifetimes, that they are immortal.
Bryant and eight other victims were involved in a helicopter crash, after heading to a basketball game. One of the victims happened to be his 13-year old daughter, Gianna Bryant.
According to federal investigators, the pilot told air traffic control he was climbing to avoid a cloud layer just before the helicopter crashed.
You then come to terms with the fact that even the biggest names, are human, and that bad things happens to good people too.
Kobe Bryant is one of the people that made me fall in love with basketball. I saw his picture printed on a book about America’s sports leaders, along with Allen Iverson, Serena Williams, and Tiger Woods, at a book fair in elementary school.
When I started playing at eight years old for Forest Park Recreation Center on an all-girls team, I swore I was the next Kobe Bryant. To see him raise four girls, and to watch his daughter, Gianna, have a love for the game too, it proved that he was an inspiration to both boys and girls.
Suddenly #girldad is trending.
What happens when someone dies is you instantly start paying more attention. You start watching some of his highlights from his career. You go and watch his final game in the NBA that he scored 60 points against the Utah Jazz, and find out that he scored 33,643 points in his entire NBA career, according to Google. You look at some of his motivational speeches, and find out that he spoke three languages.
Then you start to dig more.
You find out that people are posting articles that he may have had a tumultuous relationship with his parents, and that he allegedly had infidelity within his marriage. Then all of that disregards the fact that he is an actual human being, rather than the ‘Mamba’ that we know him to be.
We grieve him for what he did in the world, but we forget that his family and the people that knew him, actually knew him, and loved him are grieving him for who he was.
The world watches as the people closest to him put out statements, or tweets that ‘I AM SICK,’ and watch as his now widow changes her Instagram profile picture after locking her account and getting rid of the comment section. Then I wonder: did she actually muster up the strength to write that post, or could it have been a PR person that posted on her behalf? How could someone who just lost their husband and their daughter be so strong to post onto Instagram, stating in part:
"There aren't enough words to describe our pain right now--I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved,” while the world watches her grieve.
All the while journalists, like myself, are shocked at the fact that instead of writing about Trump’s impeachment trial or that there’s a flu-like virus going around that originated from Wuhan, China called the Coronavirus, that we have to write about Kobe Bryant in past tense.
Rest in peace Kobe Bryant (1978-2020).