Things were so different just 36 hours ago.
A little over thirty-six hours ago, things for the most part, were right in the basketball world. We were in the midst of celebrating another accomplishment in the career of all-time great Lebron James, who had just passed fellow all-timer Kobe Bryant on the NBA career scoring list, which reinvigorated the Lebron/Kobe debate. The talk of the Association were potential trade talks, what players would round out the All-Star rosters and who would compete in the Slam Dunk competition.
In California, there were at least six families that were still whole.
I had just finished watching a Mike Tyson fight on Facebook and decided to take a last scroll down the timeline before I exited when I saw people expressing incredulousness surrounding Kobe Bryant. My initial thought was “oh no, has the brother been ‘Me too’d’ ?”
While I stopped on an acquaintance’s post to inquire what happened, I decided to look into things myself. A quick trip to Twitter brought me to several retweets of a TMZ article that said Kobe Bryant was among several people that perished in a helicopter crash. I was hopefully skeptical considering the source and the fact we live ( frankly always have) in the “fake news” era. However continuing to delve deeper into the situation led to a host of local articles, including statements and reports from law seemed to confirm the worst.
Since my friends and family know I write about and cover sports, I received a deluge of text messages asking if it was indeed true and I had to tell them that it appeared to be the case. As if the initial shock, the news broke that Bryant’s 13-year old daughter Gianna was also onboard and did not survive, which took the level of despair and dismay to another level.
Because of their fame, the Bryants, particularly Kobe, have garnered the lion’s share of the attention regarding these tragic events, but there are also seven other victims and at least five other families that have been irreparably damaged with voids that can never be filled. Those families, including the Bryants, will never, ever be the same. Fathers, Mothers, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, grandchildren were all ripped away in an instant. There are spouses that will now have to sleep in beds by themselves, children’s rooms that will no longer be filled with the sounds of youthful exuberance and parents and grandparents that will only be known through pictures, their progeny to never feel their embrace or hear their voice. It is for these people that I truly pain for. So let us never forget the Altobellis ( John, Alyssa and Keri), Christina Mauser, the Chesters ( Sarah and Payton) and the pilot, Ara Zobayan.
Basketball fans all over the world are currently and continue to mourn the loss of this basketball luminary. For many of the post-Jordan era he was their Micheal Jordan which has made it all the more devastating for some and has truly left a void in the basketball landscape. As sad as that is to see another black man cut down in his prime not by systematic murder or the actions of dusty people , but by a tragic accident is jarring. As a father the thought of never seeing my family again through my own tragic demise or theirs is my worst fear.
Over the next several days all of Kobe Bryant’s prodigious accomplishments in the world of basketball will be rightfully revisited and celebrated- the 33k+ points, the 5 NBA titles, the 18 All-Star games and countless others but the numbers that stick out to me and matter the most are 1 and 3 which represent his surviving wife and children.
Though in a professional sports environment, 41 is considered old but in the scope of life 41 years is still relatively young and it certainly appeared he had so much more to offer this world, most prominently as a husband and father who was taken away from those who loved him far, far too soon.
You will truly be missed but your influence will be seen and felt through the lives you touched.