Kobe Bryant died today. Not only did he die, but his thirteen-year-old daughter also died, the pilot of the helicopter, and two other souls who had families and people who cared about them too. And I’m absolutely devastated. It’s heartbreaking. I started to feel this deep pain in my chest that radiated all throughout my body. The pain was intense, and wouldn’t go away. And it got me to thinking. Beyond a human being’s natural propensity towards being compassionate, especially in the case of tragedies such as these, why is it hitting me so hard? Yes, it is devastating. And besides it being in the news cycle for at least the next month or so, it is something that will be on my mind. And it will stay with me. By why was my reaction so STRONG? Why did it have such a strong impact on my body? Ruin the rest of my day, and change my mood the way it has? I mean for all intents and purposes the man was a stranger to me. No, he is a stranger to me. Not to sound too insensitive after the passing of who is arguably one of the greatest players to ever play the great game of basketball, but I didn’t know him. And while I have sympathy for the other passengers, and will definitely say a prayer for their families, I didn’t have the same physical reaction to the news of their tragic deaths as I did Kobe Bryant. That got me to thinking? Why are we so attached to “celebrities?”
The man was a legend. I don’t need to list all of his accolades if you know who Kobe Bryant is, you know of his greatness. He is literally the reason why the Lakers became my favorite basketball team, and why they still are. He had talents on and off the court, from looking on the outside a great businessman, a great father, all around a great individual. But again, I didn’t know him. He wasn’t a co-worker of mine, he wasn’t an acquaintance, he wasn’t my UPS man (I order so much from Amazon, I’m sure the UPS man knows me on a first-name basis), we didn’t go to high school together, he wasn’t a friend, an ex-boyfriend. Nothing. The man didn’t know I existed. The news of his passing should affect me the same way the news of any other stranger I’d hear in dying in such a tragic way. I should give in to my inclination to be compassionate, say a few kind words, and move on. But I didn’t. And I’m pretty sure I won’t. And it’s not because it will be talked about for years to come by everyone. It’s because of the obvious pedestal or place of reference I’ve put this figure in my life.
My admiration for his physical talents, the excitement I get from watching him place a basketball in a hoop. The rush of adrenaline you get when the clock is down to 2.6 seconds, he has the ball, posted up in the paint, tongue hanging out, and he does his shimmy, fades away, the ball goes in the air just as the clock hits red, and you hear the magical sound of the ball going through the net. The way I could just escape and forget about my shitty day, my boyfriend who didn’t call me back, or my child who keeps getting bad grades because she just won’t apply herself, just by watching him play. Win or lose. He put his all and all into every single play he ever ran, every time he had the ball, you could never say that he didn’t give it his ALL. Perhaps it’s that determination, that strength, that fortitude, that perseverance, that I admire. Not some stranger, who I’ve never met and who’s never met me. He gave everything he had to the game that I love so much until he couldn’t anymore. He stayed with the same organization for 20 years. Loyalty. He broke records. Talent. He played his heart out. Greatness. It’s not the “celebrity” that I was “attached” to. Or that I so revered. It was that greatness. All of those qualities, that I wish I had in myself. What I aspire to be. What I work towards each and every day for myself and my family. That greatness. That will surely be missed. Kobe Bryant. January 26, 2020. May your soul rest in peace. You gave your all to the game of basketball and your fans. You were a leader and an inspiration to us all. Gone, but never, ever forgotten. Thank You.