"Kobe Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash."
Those were the first words I heard waking up that Sunday. My brother told me in a low tone as I dragged myself out of bed. Kobe Bryant, Dead? I wasn't fully awake to process what he had just told me. Kobe. I kept saying his name as if I was trying to remember who I knew with the name Kobe. Of course I knew who he was talking about, anyone who watched sports was undoubtedly familiar with "The Black Mamba". Instead of conversing with my brother about the topic, I walked into the kitchen to grab some food. To my surprise, it was already very late into the day. I hadn't realized how long I had been asleep.
"It's all over the news!" My brother yelled from the bedroom. Having worked all weekend, I guess I simply crashed without turning my alarm on. I was probably among one of the last to hear about the tragedy.
Kobe. Bryant. Along with his daughter, Gigi. Gone.
I think I stayed quiet the rest of that day, simply because I didn't want to accept it. How could someone so well-known, influential, having just retired and leaving behind one of the greatest basketball legacies be dead? I feel like lately people have been dropping like flies and I've just brushed them off nonchalantly ⏤ but this was different. This one hit right where every other basketball fan felt the same pain I did that day. A true legend would never step out on the stage that was once dominated by his presence.
I would talk about Kobe just like any other sports fan, by stating all his awards and achievements or how much of an impact on the game he had. I will avoid this approach, however, simply because that wasn't all he was. Sure, he was a five-time NBA champion, but he was also a father of five daughters. Sure, he played his entire career of 20 seasons with the Lakers, but in my entire 20 years of living, his name echoed around every basketball court, game, or event I was in attendance of. I want to honor Kobe in this manner as an outstanding individual. He was a true role model for all people seeking to become a better version of themselves. No doubt his name will be remembered for generations, so long as people who knew him continue to dedicate themselves to his well known "Mamba Mentality".
Kobe Bryant. You may not know all those who were die hard fans of your work, like myself. However, I know with certainty that with all you have given to the NBA, your friends, your beautiful family, and co-workers, you left behind an unbreakable foundation and sparked a fire in the hearts of all you came into contact with to continue working harder to achieve our dreams.
An unknown fan, but great admirer,