January 26, 2020 will live with us forever. It turned out to be a dark day for America. We froze in our tracks, and all of us mourned on this tragic day. It took days to get over this, and some of us are still struggling to get through it.
That date will be ingrained in our head for the rest of our lives. We remember that date for Kobe Bryant being dead in a helicopter crash along with his daughter Gianna, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli (wife), Alyssa Altobelli (daughter), Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser and Ara Zobayan (pilot). They commuted from a helicopter to attend Bryant’s youth basketball academy, which Gianna Bryant and Alyssa Altobelli would be playing in a game.
Logging on Twitter for the first time on Sunday, the news of this crash came out involving Bryant. No one believed what they saw. Some hoped it was fake news just out of denial. But we all knew better when ESPN’s NBA authority Adrian Wojnarnowski tweeted this news. It was then our lives were rocked for good. There was no getting around this one no matter how hard we tried.
This news turned out to be a tragedy in so many ways. Bryant relished his post-NBA life by mentoring today’s young players, working with Gianna’s game and promoting women’s basketball. For Gianna, we missed out on seeing what she could have done in basketball. To see Bryant die this young is hard to fathom because we thought he would live forever and ever just because of his stature, which it would be hard for him to die with his spirit and strength. To see Gianna die young takes the soul out of everyone. To see the innocent people that died with the Bryants out of nowhere makes it hard to deal with. We will never see Bryant talk when he gets inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, and his family won’t get to see him at Springfield for that special night. Bryant will never see his two other kids growing up to be teenagers.
No one in their wildest dreams would ever think Bryant would die this soon.There was no rhyme and reasoning. It just happened.
This news was no run-of-the-mill story. It did not feature ordinary people that we probably wouldn’t care. It was Kobe Bryant, and that’s why it hit the world because he entertained everyone from the day he made his NBA regular season debut against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Nov 3, 1996.
Bryant related to today’s players because they all watched him growing up and modeling their game after him. Fans loved him because he was one of the greatest competitors that ever played basketball. Media members liked him because he never gave that boring cliche that modern athletes provide in answering questions by saying nothing of substance. Coaches around the NBA adored him for not taking a day off in his profession or cheating the game.
For me, I liked him because of what he became the last few years since his retirement. It transcended beyond basketball when it came to mentorship and women’s basketball advocate. He loved being a girl dad that has now all of sudden become a popular hashtag on Twitter.
Everyone celebrates Bryant for being an 18-time NBA All-Star, one-time MVP, 12-time NBA All-Defensive team and five-time NBA champion in his 20 successful seasons with the Lakers, but for me, he should be celebrated for what he did off-the-court, and that should be a compliment to him.
Athletes and people in general should be defined for what they did to contribute to society, and Bryant checks all the boxes for what he did off-the-court. He lived with a purpose, and that’s why his mentor and then-Lakers executive Jerry West made it a great point to mention he made the world a better place.
Bryant came a long way to where he was when he entered the league. He started off so polarizing with him being narcissistic and maybe selfish, but he learned and grew up with age. His transformation turned out to be a feel-good story, and that’s where he won his critics over.
His death made it hard for everyone to take and accept. He died way too soon, and we lost out on him based on what he would have done in his post-career, especially with him developing Gianna into a basketball star. We lost out on Gianna Bryant carrying the torch from her father.
We can only ask this: Why did it happen to him, his daughter and the other victims? It was such a fluke occurrence that makes it hard to accept.
It wasn’t just the NBA’s loss, Los Angeles’ loss and America’s loss. It was the world’s loss. We lost someone way too soon for no reason that’s hard to explain.
We will get over it because life must go on for us, but Vanessa Bryant, rest of Kobe’s daughters, the Altobelli family, the Chester family, the Mauser family and the Zobayan family can never do so. How could they? A loved one is gone and is never coming back. This is hard for everyone to accept.
It seemed like yesterday we heard from Bryant. It appeared like we watched him as an NBA player just yesterday than a few years ago. We couldn’t wait to see what he has next for all of us. He offered so much that we looked forward to.
We got denied of it because life happens.
It makes us melancholy, and it makes us want to cry over and over again.
Bryant turned out to be one of us. He was part of our family. He invited us to be part of what he was going to do.
Why did it have to happen?