Why the Kobe News Made Me Cry

“Kobe” he says while kicking out his leg, fall backwards, and tossing a crumpled up piece of paper into the trash can.

Kobe Bryant is a legend in every sense of the word. He is a global icon who was idolized by mostly everyone. 

I was born in 1988 and wasn’t old enough to remember Michael Jordan’s prime. That’s why the career of Kobe Bryant, is the best full length career I watched in my lifetime. That makes Kobe my GOAT. Maybe I have seen better players. Maybe I have seen better performances. But I have never seen a better career, than Kobe.

I love Kobe Bryant. And I don’t think I realized how much until Sunday, when the news broke. I got a text from my brother about it and immediately started tearing up. I wasn’t sure why. I refreshed twitter hundreds and hundreds of times waiting for someone to dispute the report, that came from TMZ. I hoped it was hoax, a cruel and sick joke. Or misinformation. It wasn’t. It was true.

Kobe’s basketball career has been over for a few years now. But the best part of his life was just beginning, and that’s what makes me sick. He and his wife were raising four daughters. No more basketball. Just chilling and watching his girls grow up. The oldest, Gianna, wanted to grow up to be like him. Kobe said in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, that any time someone mentioned “you need a son”, Gianna would step in and say “hey, I can carry this legacy”. He talked about her playing college, being in the WNBA.

I remember everything from Kobe’s career. The 81 points. 61 points at MSG. The 5 championships and 2 losses. I loved watching him do work in every All Star Game. These memories will last a lifetime, but there weren’t going to be any new basketball-related memories (outside of his Hall of Fame speech). There wasn’t going to be any more dunks or threes. He was long retired.

There was going to be lots of smiles, lots of life. Lot of celebrations in the future. I loved watching him interact with the older and younger generation. He fully embraced being a role model and guys like Kyrie Irving, Kawhi Leonard, Trae Young all idolized him. It wasn’t because he was dominant on the court, it was the way he presented himself. “Mamba mentality”. It was because of how hard he worked, how much he cared, how he treated his teammates.

Everyone should live life the way Kobe played basketball. Work hard and treat people right and conduct yourself in the right way.

I am sick because of the family. Everyone has Kobe stories. Everyone except his youngest 6 month old daughter, who was born in June. She is going to grow up reading stories, watching videos, and being told how amazing her father was. But she will never experience it. She will never get to know her father. She will never sit on the couch and watch a game together. She will never get to have a father/daughter dance or any type of experience. That’s what hurts me most of all.

So why did I cry?

Well, we lost Kobe Bryant the basketball player 3 years ago. We’ll always have the memories and highlights. I watched his 60 point finale 3 times yesterday.

But the memories we, the fans, don’t have, and never will are the ones of Kobe the family man. We lost, not a basketball player, but a father of 4 daughters. We lost a 13 year old woman with all the potential in the world. The thought of seeing 3 young children lose a father and a sister, seeing a mother lose a husband and a daughter is beyond gut-wrenching. This about more than just Kobe.

We lost a guy who was universally loved, by millions of people who never even met him. Who were never even in the same building as him. But just knowing how much joy and fun I had watching Kobe play and watching highlights, it made him a hero to me.

RIP Kobe. RIP Gianna.

Note: I want to acknowledge the other 7 people too involved in the accident. It’s truly awful that 9 people were directly involved and the impact on all of those friends and families is unfathomable. I don’t want to be insensitive by not recognizing them. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved, not just the Bryant family. But the Bryant family meant something to me so I wanted to share my thoughts. The others mean something from a humanity standpoint, where I am sad and hurt that something like this happened to other people.

Mike is a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) and an alum of the University of Cincinnati.

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