January 27, 2020
Today started as a typical Sunday morning and my family and I were enjoying brunch at a local cafe. Just before we got up to leave, I overheard the party next to us say that Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter crash. My mind refused to accept this as the unconfirmed reports on Twitter multiplied. It was only upon reading a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnorawski confirming the awful news that my heart sank and I went numb. At that moment I knew that my idol was no longer here to guide me.
I spent the day alternating between tears and shock as I realized why Kobe is so special to me.
Those who know me know that basketball is an integral part of my life, and much of that is due to Kobe’s influence.
Kobe was the number one reason why my childhood was so great.
Growing up in Los Angeles in the 2010’s during Kobe’s prime was a privilege. Like thousands of others who play basketball almost every day, I strive to emulate Kobe while on the court and bleed purple and gold when watching my beloved Lakers play.
Since I was five years old, I would watch Kobe hit the same 15-foot jump shot and fade-away that only he could make. Kobe was the number one reason why my childhood was so great. Everyday I would race to complete my homework by 7:30 in order to watch Kobe play. Every time Kobe got the ball I would be at the edge of my seat and marvel at the endless tricks he used to outsmart his opponents. After each basket, I would pump my fist or high-five the person next to me. This was a nightly routine for about 12 years of my life, until Kobe’s retirement in 2016.
I have been privileged with a young and healthy family so I have never really experienced something truly tragic in my family but today I felt as if I lost a family member. Today was a day where I held nothing in and displayed my emotions. However, this wasn’t the first time I cried over Kobe. On April 13, 2016, it was Kobe’s last game and he was scoring left and right. By the end of the game he had dropped 60 points and given the Lakers the final win of the season. He ended his career with the words “Mamba Out,” which brought tears to my eyes. Unfortunately, this time, Mamba is really out and I’m struggling to accept this loss.
I always wanted to meet Kobe just to say thank you for giving me the best childhood and teaching me the game of basketball and the importance of a strong work ethic. Like countless others, I can’t shoot a paper into a trash can without yelling “Kobe!” Going forward, I am going to think about him twice as hard as I remember and honor the greatest basketball player of all time.