I needed the help of the Grammy Awards on Sunday to help process the tragic news of Kobe Bryant’s death. Alicia Keys and Boyz II Men sang “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” to open the show. It is still surreal to think that this iconic, great basketball player is not here. When I first heard the news from a co-worker, I immediately responded, “Get the _____ out of here." After getting confirmation, you could feel the energy leaving the room as others became aware. The feeling that we all shared transcended genders, nationalities, young and old. Kobe was polarizing! You either loved him or loathed him. But all respected him for his commitment to the game.
I had the privilege of seeing him play in person twice. I cherish that because I saw those games with my daughter who grew up idolizing him and Allen Iverson. It was during his second act of life after basketball that I truly appreciated him.
The following is a quote from Kobe that I use for motivation: “The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great at whatever they want to do.”
Winning an Academy Award, having a book on the best seller list along with developing a series for ESPN entitled “Detail” were just a few of the things he accomplished during the last 4 years. Kobe was a renaissance man who thought and planned his moves to be successful. When he was playing, he read the NBA's referee handbook so he could tell where the officials must position themselves to make calls. He used this information to put himself in position to defend more aggressively at certain spots on the court.
Kobe was fluent in several languages. He was the son of Philly basketball legend Joe Bryant. His mother Pam is the sister of Chubby Cox, a respected Philadelphia hoopster. He came to the NBA straight from Lower Merion high school. But I think for all he accomplished with the Lakers over his 20 years in the NBA, he was just getting started. His second act was going to equally be as good as his first.
The lyrics from Michael Jackson’s “Gone too Soon” express it best: “Born to amuse, to inspire, to delight, Here one day, gone one night. Like a sunset dying with the rising of the moon. Gone too soon.”