I Didn't Know Kobe, But His Death Affected Me In Ways That Make Me Think I Did.
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I Didn't Know Kobe, But His Death Affected Me In Ways That Make Me Think I Did.

Last Sunday, the world awoke to tragic news that former Lakers basketball player, five NBA champion and Two time Olympic gold medallist, Kobe Bryant, his 13 year old daughter and aspiring basketball player, Gianna Bryant; Gianna's teammates, Alyssa and Peyton, and their respective parents; Mamba Academy's coach, Christina Mauser; and pilot Ara Zobayan were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

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I Didn't Know Kobe, But His Death Affected Me In Ways That Make Me Think I Did.

When I first heard the news, I was taken back in time to 2009 when Michael Jackson died and in 2014 when Maya Angelou died. I knew the news of his/her passing was flashing in red and black right in front of me across my television screen and saturating my Facebook feed and flooding radio news headlines and clouding Instagram posts. Yet the news didn't quite reach my consciousness; my brain quite face the sharp reality that this person is, indeed, dead. Is no longer on this earth. Is no longer living life with me. Is no longer able remind me of why and how I live my life.

And when these facts hit, they hit hard. What makes them hit harder is feeling like they shouldn't hit hard, that their death shouldn't be hitting me as hard as they are given the fact that Kobe, Michael, and Maya didn't even know I existed. But I knew they existed. Their lives, work, and existence mattered to me, and maybe that's why their deaths are hitting the way they are.

I read somewhere that when a famous person dies - particularly when that person, unbeknownst to them, helped us through some sh*t in our own lives or whom we aspire to be like - it forces us (the living) to think about how quickly one's life can be taken away. This time last week Kobe was maybe sitting with his family in his home watching television, planning for the week ahead. Eerily, this time last month, on December 21st, Kobe was captured on camera being the #girldad he is and explaining to Gianna specific ins and outs of the Hawks versus Nets game they were court side watching at the time.

Now, they are both gone.

It also forces us to think about our own deaths and our family member's deaths (past, present, and future). So now Kobe is dead, I can't not think about my own life and death, as well as my family's lives and eminent deaths. I can't not think about how short this life really is and how better or more holistically I should to live it.

And yes, I know Kobe's personal history can be viewed as somewhat problematic. When someone of his social stature and influence dies, it's difficult to bring up what they did wrong in the past given the anger and retaliation it's met with. In 2003 he was accused of sexual assault and was acquitted thereafter following a large some of money and a quick public apology to his accuser and the rest of the nation. This is not something I (nor society shouldn't) take lightly. As a woman, I take sexual assault/abuse/harassment very seriously. It is a real thing that is inflcited upon women and men every f*cking day. I also take the fact he cheated on his wife very seriously. Cheating is not cool. Period. His actions at that particular time were stupid, senseless, and ego-fueled.

However, at the end of the day, I firmly believe that he grew to be a decent human being. I believe he learned from his past mistakes and subsequently tried his best to be a positive role model for his daughters and the women in his life, as well as his female supporters across the globe. And, ultimately, I do believe he was an inherently good man. So, while others have said otherwise, I think he deserves the send off, sadness, and social and cultural memorialization he's getting worldwide in the aftermath of his tragic, untimely death.

I didn't know Kobe personally; I had never seen him face to face, never been within reach of him on court, never had a conversation with him, never contacted him, never met him nor his family. But, in the end, these facts are insignificant. What IS significant is the human impact he leaves behind, the humanistic legacy of speaking positivity into and for the lives of athletes - that they are more than athletes. His death has, in more ways than one, made me feel like I did know him, like we were in contact, like he had spoken with me. Sport has lost one of its greatest, most respected athletes of all time. Basketball has lost an icon. The world has lost an admired man who's career has instilled sportsmanship, humility, and leadership into others, not least the youth.

For years to come, when we shoot that ball into the basket, I and the rest of the world will shout "Kobe!"

Rest in power. Mamba Mentality

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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