When I heard the Kobe Bryant news yesterday, my heart literally broke.
I got goosebumps, I went numb.
The whole world did, Kobe, we all froze. It's not very often that someone's passing stuns the world and hits so hard, but your sudden passing knocked the wind out of all of us. This wasn't how it was supposed to end. You were supposed to own an NBA team, be around the league for the next 50 years. You were supposed to coach your daughter and watch from the sideline as she continued your legacy.
They say everything happens for a reason, but I'm finding it really hard to find a reason for this.
Like many, I grew up idolizing you. I remember watching you in awe. I remember flying into LA and being surrounded by you. Everywhere I looked, there was your merchandise. You were, and always will be the heart of LA and the Staples Center will always be the house that you built. You may be gone but your legacy will always remain.
I'll never forget watching you blow out your Achilles and then get up and proceed to shoot free throws.
I modeled my game after you. When I played through my injury you were in the back of my mind. I even started chewing my jersey like you. You were one of the reasons I chose to wear the number 24. When I stepped away from lacrosse, I read your "Dear Basketball" over and over. You not only changed the way I approached the game, but you changed how I left it.
Your work ethic was something to marvel at.
I'll never forget the stories of how hard you worked, how you never wasted a single second of the day. How you would be in the gym in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat, trying to perfect your game. Some people thought you were crazy, but everyone envied your work ethic.
Regardless of the sport, you shaped every athlete, Kobe.
Hell, every time someone shot something into a garbage can, they would yell "KOBE!"
You didn't need a full introduction. It wasn't "Kobe Bryant" or "Kobe, Bryant Los Angeles Laker," it was just "Kobe." There are so many stories that are immortal. In 41 years, you left a legacy that most people can only dream of.
Kobe, it's going to take a long time to come to the realization that you're really gone. I don't know if we will ever heal. But since this is really the end, on behalf of all of us, I want to say thank you. Thank you for changing the game of basketball. Thank you for being someone that the younger generation could look up to. Thank you for the impact you have had in the last 41 years. Thank you for everything, Kobe. There's a quote that says, "People we love sometimes leave our lives, but what stays is how they forever changed us."
You changed us all, Kobe. We will never be the same.
Rest easy, 24. There will never be another one like you.
All of us