By now most of you have heard about the tragic death of former NBA star Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven other passengers. I became a basketball aficionado pretty recently so I never saw Kobe play, but I do know that he ranks among the top NBA players EVER. What I do remember is that Kobe – along with Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal, and Michael Jordan – was a name you recognized even if you didn’t follow sports.
A few things about him I did not know until yesterday:
- His NBA career spanned 20 years – all with the L.A. Lakers.
- He grew up in Italy and played on the “Cantine Riunite” youth team in the early 1990’s.
- He is considered one of the elite NBA players of all time; and of those only Chamberlain, Moses Malone, and now Kobe Bryant are no longer living.
- In 2018, he won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film (Dear Basketball) which was based on a poem he wrote when he announced his retirement.
- He started the Mamba Sports Academy in Southern California.
Like I said, I wasn’t familiar with his basketball prowess. Hearing about those killed – especially the young people who were aboard the helicopter – was heartbreaking. The young lives cut short. But most of all, I thought of those they left behind who began their day like any other day, not knowing they would never see their loved ones again. When accidents like this happen in the public eye it reminds all of us just how short our time on this planet can be; and while my first thought was that we should “live today like it’s our last”, the Fort Worth-Star Telegram said it best in this editorial: A wish for Kobe Bryant’s family: They were all in a good place with nothing left unsaid.