This past weekend might have been a lot of things for a lot of people, but there was one collective moment most of us shared.
It was an awful moment. The kind we’ll replay over and over again. The kind that 20, 30 years from now we’ll still swap, “where were you when..” stories about.
For me, I was in North Carolina, visiting my cousins. I was standing in line at an ice cream shop, taking bites of my waffle cone filled with Carolina Crunch as I waited to pay. Then, with a pivot, my cousin Ashlynn turned to me, phone in hand and said, “is this true?”
Kobe Bryant had been killed in a helicopter crash.
As the day went on, the details came out. We learned that Gianna, Kobe’s 13 year old daughter, as well as seven other passengers—children, mothers, fathers, wives and husbands—had also been killed in the crash.
As the weeks go on, we’ll likely learn more. But for now, we’re just left with what we know, and what we feel.
And we all feel it.
Over the last two days, social media has been flooded with condolences, prayers and heartbreak, but more than anything, it has been filled with stories. Moments. Thank you’s.
Kobe Bryant will undoubtedly be one of the greatest, if not the greatest basketball player to ever play the game. But he was also, incredibly, so much more than that. He had only just begun to start his life and his movement after basketball, and it is clear in the heartbreak of everyone in and outside the NBA that they—we—are not only mourning a legend on the court, but an all around hero.
For me personally, growing up in Los Angeles, I grew up watching Kobe. And even though I haven’t always known basketball, I’ve always known Kobe, and thus, in many ways, to me, Kobe was basketball. His God given talent and his out of this world work ethic—he was a superhuman, destined, determined and demanding of greatness. This was clear to the die hard fan and the naked eye.
This is why, I think, this loss is so widespread and deep. Because suddenly there is a sense of hopelessness, a fear of emptiness, a question of: who now do we have to look up to the way we did Kobe?
I have read so many stories and been incredibly moved by the impact one man can have on an entire world. But while this loss is one we will always feel, I hope that all of that inspiration, that hope, that wonder that he brought to basketball, to fans, to friends, family, acquaintances, and everyone and everything in between, that those lessons will not only live on in his memory, but they will ripple outward, creating even more stories, more wonder, more inspiration, more love, not because he died, but because he lived.
So thank you, Kobe. There may never be another one like you, but there are so many who are better because of you.
May you, your daughter, and everyone else lost rest in peace. You will all be greatly missed.