As I write this blog post, I still sit in disbelief and devastation to wake up to the news that Kobe Bryant has been killed in a helicopter crash, along with his daughter, Gianna. While on a daily basis, I speak of my love for basketball, Lakers, and Kobe, there are only a handful of people so close to me who understand the sheer impact that Kobe has had in my life and my upbringing in the United States as a teenager. Basketball was the first sport I ever watched and the first game I watched was a Lakers game with a player no other than Kobe Bryant taking the shot and swishing the net.
Seeing him game after game intrigued me about his work ethic. While many of my peers grew up idolizing Steve Jobs, I grew up looking up to Kobe Bryant. While others would read about the innovator Steve Jobs was, I grew up reading about the willpower, the dedication, determination, and the grit of the Black Mamba. I would read about the broken fingers, and shoulders he's played with, about the personal challenges he faced in his face, which gave me the appreciation for a man who, while extremely different from me, was really no different from me at a human level.
I would run back from school, finish my homework on time so that I could watch Kobe and the Lakers play. I saw them win their 2010 NBA Championship.
Kobe meant more than basketball to me — he showed me what happens when you blend together exceptional talent with killer work ethic.
Growing up, I was constantly told by my teachers and peers that I was "smart", but it didn't sit well with me because Kobe was the person who constantly preached not how talented someone is, but putting in work to get what you want in your life. I knew being "smart" could only get me so far without actually dedicating myself to the craft and learning to work hard.
Kobe didn't just inspire me to work hard, but became the voice in my head who picked me up at a rough time in high school when I was nearly in depression. I was a kid with low self-esteem, struggled with body image, and never felt that I was good enough. Kobe had been a huge inspiration when I lost nearly 40 pounds from the ages of 17-19.
I loved Kobe so much so that I would like my status on Facebook about it.
Kobe's last game was on my 20th birthday and that night, still, means so much to me.
Even until his last minutes on the court, he gave it all. He loved the game so much and you could see it until the very last few seconds. I still remember crying that night because for the final time, I had witnessed a legend do legend things and give it his all.
Today, when I heard the news, I wanted it to be fake.
Of all people in the world who fly in a helicopter, it had to be Kobe. I didn't want to cry in front of others but I couldn't hold back the emotions. Without giving me anything, he gave me so much. Without being there for me, he was always there for me. He gave a 16-year-old boy a dream to work hard and push through rejections and disappointments. He taught an 18-year-old to continue his pursuit for his passion and striving for nothing less.
Today, as the world mourns for Kobe, all I know is that Kobe would not have wanted it this way. He wouldn't want me to sob around and cry for his loss. Kobe would've told me to use my emotions to push me and inch me closer to my life goals. Kobe didn't preach crying or complacency — he preached getting off your ass and getting to work, so that's what I'll do this year.
This year is to doing things that I want to do but I am afraid of. I'll be tracking each of these goals.
Thank you for the impact you have had on me, Kobe, and for changing the trajectory of my life. Thank you for being there for a boy who had no one else growing up — thanks for being my light at the end of the tunnel.
My 2020 is dedicated to what you preached your entire life — hard work, dedication, and grit.
As I end my night with a bit of grief, you have given me hope and rejuvenated my desire to continue to work on my craft not just tomorrow, but for this coming year! You wouldn't have wanted me to continue to feel sorry for your loss, so here's to you and keep striving for greatness.
Without you, my love for basketball will never be the same. What will be the same is me seeing a trash can, crumbling up the paper into a bowl in my hands, imagining 5 seconds on the shot clock and as the clock ticks, 5 .... 4 .... 3 .... 2 .... 1 ... I'll always shoot and yell KOBEEEEEE! #8 #24