I feel like a little piece of my childhood died right along with Kobe…
“Something happened America and I didn’t want you to miss it.
In the last 24 hours I quietly watched people of every race, religion, economic background, college grads and people who barely got out of high school. Scientists and bricklayers, Wall Street types and the guy who changes your oil. The family in the most expensive mansion in town and the folks living in public house… all of them, sharing a moment of grief for the handsome and talented man in this photo.
All of them stopping what they were doing when they heard the news and sharing a gut punch moment of dread, a feeling that this couldn’t have just happen. Not him. Not Kobe.
I know we are a divided nation right now, I get it, but please don’t feel the divide is so great we can’t bridge it. We can. We do. We will.
And all the panels of talking heads on the alphabet soup of cable news can’t turn us against each other. Don’t let them.
We really do have more in common than we think and we all love and lose and hurt no matter our zip code or who we voted for.
This loss should remind us how much we do share and in this moment I see a nation sharing grief for nine innocent people.
There is no sense to why this happened but we can find purpose in the loss.
Something happened in America and I didn’t want you to miss it.
We love each other. Kobe proved it.”
-John Gray Writer~ A Post I saw, Loved, and shared on Facebook
I have never mourned and grieved the loss of someone I have never met before, until Kobe Bryant died. I grew up idolizing sports figures, and, truth be told, I still do. I could not imagine, until recently, life without the Sports figures that I hold dear. Kobe, Jordan, Shaq, Lebron, Tiger, Primetime, The Manning Brothers, Chipper Jones, Khalil Mack, Drew Brees, Pat Mahommes, And yes, as much as I despise the Pats- Tom Brady. I mean these, and so many more, are in a very cheesey and non creepy way- Parts of my life. They’re so much more than just Athletes for me. They’re Heroes. So many of them have over come adversity, and fought tooth and nail to become who they are today, only to put their bodies on the line- game in and game out while america sits on a couch, or in a restaurant and screams at a light up little box, known as a television. And always have been heroes for me. And in light of recent events I have felt led to share a little bit about my take aways from this horrible and untimely tragedy.
We all know, or should know, by now that Kobe Bryant is a Hall of Fame basketball player. In fact, the NBA is going to by pass the voting process and streamline his induction in light of his untimely death. He has two retired numbers for the Lakers. He is a top 4 scoring champion and number 1 in almost every single Lakers category. Over the last several days, ESPN and countless other news outlets around the world have been interviewing his colleagues, friends, fans, and just about anyone who has been impacted by his life and death. I remember vividly Doc Rivers’ courageous interview, voice cracking, tears running down his face. Inconsolable. Trying his best to articulate his emotions and grief when asked about what number 8/24 meant to him. And although we all may think that Kobe “The basketball player” is who they’re mourning. Basketball pales in comparison to what they were really grieving. They lost a friend. They lost a brother. They lost a Hero. But what Really made him a Hero to so many? Was it because he was fluent in multiple languages? No, but that is pretty cool. I took Spanish for like two and half years and I only know a few choice phrases, like ?Donde Esta La Biblioteca? I think that means where is the library. I have never met Kobe, and to be honest with you, I am thinking about deleting this whole post because I don’t want to offend anyone, or piss anyone off- due to my ignorance of his life and true legacy and relationships. But I wont. What I am trying to get at, is- Like the post I shared above from Facebook- for a Moment in time, the whole world stopped. It will in the future be one of those “Where were you moments”. I was at home, and I learned about his passing from my Daughter Jamie. My heart sank and I jumped on Google and turned on the news for confirmation, hoping to God it wasn’t true. But indeed it is true. And I am still very saddened by it. He was a kid from Philly. He fell in love with a game. Drafted right out of high school. Living his dream. Utilizing his platform and influence to make other people’s lives better. Not just his wife and children’s. And from what I can tell he was very humble and Gracious. I mean, he flew to Philly to watch his final basketball game, Where Lebron broke his record in his home town. In front of his home town people. And he smiled the whole time, and cheered him on, and congratulated LBJ. Pretty damn selfless. Pretty damn cool if you ask me. And though I don’t know enough personally about him to write some type of Biography on him, which this is not meant to be anything close to- What I do know about is people. And touching other Human Being’s lives. I hope I do anyways. For I know that there are thousands of people on some scale or another- good or bad, that have impacted me. Impacted my life, my heart, my spirit, my self esteem.
I know I’m a bleeding heart, leave me alone, I’m trying to make a point here. But I mean, look at the news. It’s been days, and they’re still talking about it. They’re still outside the Staples center with posters and flowers, and candles and all coming together. Not over some basketball player. But over the impact that one of their heroes had on their lives. The inspiration that He instilled, that anything is possible if you work hard. That you can achieve anything. That you can make a difference. That you can be a good dad and husband and pass on that work ethic, love, and inspiration to your own children. That being selfless is truly the most fulfilling thing to be. And I know there’s gonna be those that bring up his case from back in the day- So I’ll just go ahead and handle that now: We have all done things that we’re not proud of, you’re not perfect, and don’t judge someone just because they sin DIFFERENTLY than you do. End of story.
But the moral of the story here, is take a step back. Look at what just happened, like the post that I shared above. We all grieved together. We all had one pulse for a brief moment in time. We all had that lump in our throats at the same time. Black, White, American, Australian. European, Gay, Straight, Believer, and Atheists. We all acknowledged this young man, and the other’s in the helicopter’s lives. Collectively. In this recent week- it has made me personally reflect on what is truly important. It has made me feel convicted at times, about the things I could have done better, the times I could have loved harder, or better. When I have failed, Forgiveness, Fatherhood, Compassion, Memories. And it has reminded me not to take things for granted. That no one is promised tomorrow. No matter how rich or poor you are, our timelines are all different. Our “Dashes” are not the same. No matter who you are. No matter what you do for a living. No matter what your “position” in life. The only thing that people are TRULY going to remember you by- is the way you made them feel. The way that you touched their lives. The impact that you had on them. The leadership you showed. The example you set. Yes, The world is mourning the life of Kobe Bryant “the basket ball player”, But I promise you, that the Giant of a man- one of my all time favorite athletes- Shaquile O’Neal was not bawling his eyes out thinking about the time Kobe scored 81 points. He was crying and grieving all the memories, the impact, and the influence that that young man had on his heart.
Think about your life. Think about who you really are. Think about who you could be. Think about all the good you could do in this world, in your communities. If we just put the blinders on, focused, and followed that little voice in our hearts that perpetually propel us toward doing good. Toward blessing other people’s Lives. Toward making someone smile, making them FEEL special. *Spoiler alert* just to pull you off your little pink cloud for a moment- You’re gonna fuck up. you’re gonna fail from time to time. you’re gonna actually hurt people’s feelings some times. And that is very human of you. But learn, Grow, and get better. Did Kobe fail? Of course he did. But his greatness and impacts of goodness Far out weighed his shortcomings. And that is the idea here.
True, when 99.9% of us die, they will not erect a statue of us. They will not raise up our old high school jerseys and immortalize us. But what will they do? What will they say? What will YOUR legacy be? What do you want to be remembered by? As? Like Kobe, do we want to be remembered as the amazing, loving, kind, gracious, philanthropic, talented, giving person who made everyone’s Lives better? Who inspired others, who left a real life mark on this world? Or do we want to be remembered as the “Hall of Famer”- The “best damn carpenter/Dishwasher/Lawyer/Salesman/Golfer/Writer/Waiter/Uber Driver(Fill in your profession here___________)?”
We have the ability, every day when we wake up, and even as each moment passes through out each day- to actively choose. If we really focus on it. If we really make it a priority, we can Actually recreate ourselves in the blink of an eye. We, in each interaction and thought that we have throughout our lives, have this thing called conscience- and we can tune in to it- and in that moment be self aware- and focus our energies and compass in the direction that we wish. I have come to know that thing as the “Still Small Voice”. What will you choose? Who will you become in the next five minutes, days, weeks, months, or years? How will you spend your Dash? How will you make others Feel? Will you leave a lasting mark on someone’s heart so profoundly that they cannot help but do the same for the next generation? Will you live this life out to make your presence noticed, or your absence felt? Meditate on these things. Mentally chew on them. Pray about them. Who do you really want to be? Are you just conforming to the world around you, while that still small voice is screaming at you, to break out and LIVE? Who do you want to be? Who are you now? Where do you want to be? How do you want to be remembered? As the Hall of Famer who Showed up and Balled outrageous, or as the comforter, the teacher, the leader, the example, that helped change the heart of someone who needed it – and left a lasting mark on this world as we know it?
If you want to change the world for someone you have 2 choices: Hurt them Deeply, or Love them Profoundly.
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Rest in Peace, Kobe.
You spent your Dash well. Be proud Kid. You inspired many.