Kobe Bryant 1978 – 2020

“When we are saying this cannot be accomplished, this cannot be done, then we are short-changing ourselves. My brain, it cannot process failure. It will not process failure. Because if I have to sit there and face myself and tell myself, ‘You’re a failure,’ I think that is a worse, that is almost worse than death.” – Kobe Bryant

There are few moments in life that you will remember vividly. What you were doing, what you were wearing, who you were with and how you felt. There are few moments that you will recall where the same sense of shock, disbelief, sadness and emotion will wash over you every time you think of it.

For most basketball fans around the world, January 26th (US time), was one of those moments.

At first you may have not wanted to believe it. You may have scrolled past the post on social media. You may have brushed it off as another death hoax that are so regularly circulated on social media. Because, Kobe was invincible. Broken fingers, torn Achilles, fractured knees, sprained ankles – he just kept moving forward.

“I don’t want to be the next Michael Jordan, I only want to be Kobe Bryant.” – Kobe Bryant

The irony is that whilst Kobe was undoubtedly Kobe – his own man, creating his own path, leaving his own legacy, Kobe is also probably the closest player we’ve seen to Michael Jordan – not just in style, attitude and skill – but in the indelible mark he leaves on the game. Few players can both unite and divide the entire basketball community the way Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant have. Hated by opposition fans, but respected for their ability and passion for the game. Loved by their team’s fans around the world, who don their jerseys to play against friends, or who just love the spirit with which they played.

After so many seasons of dominating the court, Kobe had just started dominating his “second career” of being a Dad, a coach, a mentor, a leader. After so long on the road and internationally, now would be his time to focus on his family, his creative pursuits, his life after basketball. He could nurture his daughters’ love of sport, especially Gianna’s passion and talent for basketball. He could take her to NBA and WNBA games to show her not only his world, but also what could be hers. We watched him on the sideline, discussing plays, shots, positioning. We watched her learning from one of the greatest players to step on an NBA court, soaking up the opportunity to learn and grow. We saw him coach, imparting his knowledge to improve not just his own child, but her entire team. 

We watched him dissect plays on Detail – showing us how he had viewed things, so that we could learn and understand as well. We saw him win an Oscar for his short film ‘Dear Basketball’, which gave us an insight into his love of the game, and how deeply he connected with it, and through it, us.

If you want to honour Kobe Bryant – get your ball, lace up your shoes, and go out onto the court. Practice like he practiced. Compete like he competed. Accept no excuses, and let nothing stand in your way. There would be no greater testament to Kobe Bryant than to take the lessons that he so generously shared and live up to your full potential. But share your passion, share your dedication, share your love of the game with your family, your friends – let them know what basketball is outside of the lines on the court. Basketball is friends. Basketball is family. Basketball is more than just a sport – it can unite strangers across the world. Keep the love of the game with spark that passion in the next generation, because we were lucky enough to see Kobe’s passion in Gigi’s game.

But this tragedy isn’t just about Kobe either – there were nine people on the helicopter when it went down. We’ll never know what heights Gigi, Alyssa and Payton may have reached. – so much potential cut short, far too soon. And generations of basketball and baseball players will not receive the coaching, love and mentorship of all the coaches and parents lost on that helicopter. Mourn their loss with Kobe’s, and use their examples to create something bigger than yourself.

“For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!'”

– Maud Mulller, John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

Rest In Peace Kobe Bryant

Rest In Peace Gianna Bryant

Rest In Peace Alyssa Altobelli

Rest In Peace John Altobelli

Rest In Peace Kerry Altobelli

Rest in Peace Christina Mauser

Rest in Peace Sarah Chester

Rest in Peace Payton ChesterRest in Peace Ara Zobayan