Mamba Down

Dear reader.

I’m sorry in advance if this post sounds more like a bunch of jumbled thoughts than a well-organized, thought-provoking article.

I’m still trying to process that Kobe is actually gone.

In the words of sports commentator Shannon Sharpe, I feel like I’m grieving the loss of a family member.

And I feel a bit silly about it.

Because I didn’t know Kobe personally. I wasn’t close to him like his wife or daughters, or the rest of his family, his friends, his fellow NBA players, his coaches. I’ve never spoken with him, never interacted with him on social media, never seen him in person.

Why am I so distraught over his death?

I guess part of it is the utterly tragic way that it happened. A routine helicopter trip to a basketball game for the girl’s team that he coached, at the basketball camp he sponsored, ended in a fiery crash…a crash that tragically claimed the lives of 8 others, too.

Including his beloved daughter Gianna, who was eagerly following in his footsteps.

And Vanessa…oh my goodness.

How gut-wrenching must this be for her? To have her husband and daughter snatched from her like this. To have to somehow recover from the shock and conjure up strength for her 3 remaining daughters. And those daughters now having to face this harsh reality themselves.

I can’t even imagine the extent of their pain right now. Which, again, is why I feel silly about mine.

Perhaps it’s not fair for me to say that I’m mourning the loss of a family member. But I’m certain that I’m mourning the loss of one of my heroes.

Yeah…maybe that’s it.

Kobe was my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE basketball player, and without question one of the greatest to ever play the game. His tenacious work ethic has literally been branded (the Mamba Mentality).

But even beyond basketball, the way he fathered his daughters truly resonates with me. Kobe grew into a true family man, and despite how much he was away from home, he managed to be there for his wife and children.

His life was not without controversy, though. He had some glaring and inexcusable moral failures on his part. But to his credit, he owned up to them, and did what he could to make amends. To me, there is a redemptive arc to his story that is noteworthy.

Kobe was larger than life to me. But his death is a sobering reminder that…truthfully…none of us are too big to die.

That thought makes me think about the other heroes in my life. They are in much closer proximity to me than Kobe was. If he’s not invincible, then neither are they. I feel compelled to pray for them more than ever.

Okay, I’m done rambling. And for the record, I don’t have a deep theological lesson at the end of this.

I sincerely pray for Vanessa, her daughters, and the other grieving families. And I pray that God would grant them the strength and comfort they need to make it through this.

I hope those reading this will join me.