"I've always said that I wanted to be remembered as a player that didn't waste a moment ... didn't waste a day." - Kobe Bryant
The skies over Southern California were unusually overcast on the morning of Sunday January 26 2020. I had arrived in the area around midnight after an eighteen hour drive from Washington state. That morning, I decided to accompany my family to church. My good friend Yafet was preaching and I attended his service along with my brother. In the middle of the service, my brother who was sitting next to me, had the blankest stare that I had ever seen on his face. He looked at me, and said, “Kobe died”.
Kobe who? Not Kobe Bryant! It couldn’t be. How? What happened? What do you mean he died? I couldn’t believe it. I opened up my phone and my heart dropped as soon as the internet confirmed what I hoped was cruel joke. The shock and unsettling that followed wouldn’t subside for days and still stings to this day on the one year anniversary of his passing. On this day, I want to offer a note of gratitude to Kobe Bean Bryant.
Kobe you were an artist and a marvelous basketball player. You gave everything to the game you loved and showed all of us what giving your absolute best looks like. You came to the NBA as an 18 year old boy and left as a legend. Despite your God-given talents, you weren’t satisfied for one second. You wanted to be the best. While your peers spent their summers relaxing, you were up at 3am honing your craft. Day after day.
You were clutch like no other player I’ve seen. With the game on the line the entire league knew there was no one better to have the ball; double teams, triple teams, didn’t matter! You wanted the ball and you delivered every time. Your ability to focus under pressure and execute were superhuman.
Your obsession with perfection and becoming the best version of yourself raised the level of everyone around you. Regardless of our profession, you reminded us to focus on the fundamentals, put in the the time, go deep, and to become craftsmen rather than going through the motions. Mamba mentality wasn’t confined to the world of basketball. You were an inspiration to an entire generation of athletes and admirers of art and excellence.
You deconstructed what greatness looks like in a way mere mortals can understand. We know your greatness came at a great cost in time. Yet you managed to be an exceptional and loving father to your daughters.
You were not a perfect man. You made mistakes as a young man but you didn’t make excuses. You owned up to it. Your contrition on the public stage at the tender age of 24 was courageous and honorable to both man and God. Most of us will never know what it feels like to be publicly shamed and reviled by millions of people as you were at that time. Yet you channeled all your energy to drop forty, fifty points a game and thrill many millions more than those that cursed you.
You showed us what staying grounded looks like regardless of how wealthy you got. You left nothing on the table and inspired all of us to give our very best until we put our sneakers, pens, cameras, or scalpels up. Dropping 60 points in your very last game! Really?
You have a special place in our hearts & will be forever missed. Your spirit carries on. Your example and dedication inspires hundreds of millions of people around the world. Congratulations on a life well-lived. We were lucky to be alive when you played basketball.
Rest In Peace