Born from the stars, he graced us with his presence in the form of basketball. An entity that transpired between worlds of what was ordinary and what was extraordinary. A figure that defined life inside the paint and outside the three-point line. When Kobe Bryant died alongside his daughter in the most unforgiving way, it was a cruel reminder that this God sent creature, was in fact, human like the rest of us.
It was a measure of immortality and in the twisted theatrical comedy of life, he reached his eternal marker through his death.
Tens of thousands gathered, and continued to gather, around Staples Center and across the south land to mourn and grieve his passing. The House that Kobe Built.What he accomplished in his career as a NBA athlete had posterized already him but what is left to come will forever be in the remembrance of his name; a bronze statue, an induction to the Hall of Fame, a myriad of post-humous murals- anything to remind us that this legend will never die.
My relation to Kobe was small, but significant to say the least.
I followed him in the golden years of his career- after the NBA titles, after the torn achilles, after the 80-point game; rather, I saw him when he once clocked in a total of nine minutes of playtime and was seen more in designer suits than in the beloved purple and gold jersey. I spent a short while at a sports blog as an intern, really learning the game of basketball for the first time. It was no longer a game of who can make the most baskets but a matter of who got the lob and how many fast breaks or turnovers occurred in a single game. In his golden years, I saw him as a mentor to our once young core.
Before I really got into sports the Lakers and Dodgers games were just something played as background television noise while I helped my mom with dinner. I knew who Kobe Bryant was because the way he played would affect whether or not it was ok to talk to my dad at the dinner table. If I heard profanity, it was a warning sign but if I heard clapping and the “there you go!” peace was in the household. The same way Eric Gagné would pitch a successful or unsuccessful inning. I was a child, and I remember seeing my dad so excited and so angry over these games that I somehow out of his three children ended up being just like him when it comes to the matter. So in love with a team, so loyal and hurt over these wins and losses.
When I found out about the passing of Gianna Bryant, I was gutted. In some ways her relationship with her dad reminded me of my own. I felt a strange connection with the father daughter duo going to basketball games and watching their favorite players. As I got older attending these live sporting events with my own father became the bond that only him and I share in the family. I’ve been fortunate enough to grow a connection with him through the Lakers and through the Dodgers and through the Rams. When his coworkers ask if he’s taking his son to the game he responds, “No, my daughter.”
Kobe said he was proud to be the father of four girls and said he was a girl dad. I found comfort in knowing this. Sharing a love for the game with your child is a treasure that any parent would ask for. It’s been five days since their deaths and I still find myself with an unrecognizable grief. I ache in thought of what Gigi could have shown the world in women’s basketball and how her fadeaway jumper mimicked that of her father’s. To lose a soul so young.. it will never make sense.
This one is for you Mambacita.