On a day like today, I find it hard to believe that everything happens for a reason. To try and say that the planet will be better off without you alive – that this was supposed to happen, makes no sense. What you were able to accomplish in forty-one years of life is more than most will ever dream. 5x NBA Champion — 2x Finals MVP — 18x All-Star — 4x All-Star MVP — 2x Gold Medal Winner — Eerily now #4 in All-Time Points — Oscar Winner — That’s without mentioning every Lakers record that you hold after staying loyal to the same city, team, franchise, for 20 consecutive seasons. There’s no way I can wrap my head around what happened or, more importantly, why it happened.
Thinking about what you would have surely accomplished in the decades to come is gut-wrenching. But what you talked about most in retirement, and what you were most passionate about up until today, was always your family, Vanessa, and your four daughters. Trying to imagine what Bianka, Capri, Natalia, and Vanessa are going through is something that I will never be able to conceive. They had a father, husband, friend, and a leader pulled out from under their feet. We all lost an inspiration today. People say that life isn’t fair, and today I consider myself one of those people. There are far too many *what if’s* in all of our minds right now, playing out scenarios in which the unthinkable did not happen.
As I sat down this morning to write an unrelated post, I was having a hard time stringing together more than a couple sentences at a time. My mind was off thinking about such insignificant tasks to the grand scheme of life: switching laundry to the dryer, prepping meals for the week, and if I were going to go out for a run or not. I forced words onto a screen in hopes they would magically turn into something I could post. Eventually, I gave up, drove home, and walked in my front door, being greeted with the news that I will never forget, a moment that stands still in time. TMZ had posted an article saying you had passed away. It didn’t seem real. It still doesn’t seem real. I didn’t believe it. Someone so invincible as you couldn’t just go like that. Without even a goodbye? There’s no way.
As minutes passed like hours, the reports kept coming. Suddenly I was faced with reality; this was really it. As I waited for you to tweet, post, or share something saying that you’re okay, I realized that the moment wasn’t coming.
Now, as I sit, trying to gather my thoughts from this tragic day, I am still having a hard time writing. I am struggling to relay thousands of hours of memories into a few short paragraphs. There is no shortage of thoughts. Thoughts of sitting up on my kitchen counter, wearing my new Kobe’s, eating cereal and watching the recap of your eighty-one point game. Dreams of going to school and showing everyone that I was wearing your shoes. Thoughts of jumping up and down on my couch, trying not to scream and wake my parents after you willed the Lakers to back-to-back championships. Thoughts of the pointless debates where I was determined to prove that you were the greatest basketball player of all time. Thoughts of the shirts, jerseys, posters, blankets, and clocks that used to cover my room. Thoughts of driving six hours round trip to see you get a triple-double in Denver. Thoughts of you giving hope to a young kid, showing me that if you set your mind to something, you can achieve it. I never realized that having never met you, spoken to you, or interacted with you, you have had such a profound impact on my life. The only comfort I have now is knowing that even after your passing, you will continue to have these same effects on me.
All I’ve been able to think about today is that if this kind of tragedy can happen to you — an icon, a warrior, a legend, a superstar, it very well could happen to me at any moment. Our time here is finite, and none of us know precisely when our last moment will be. There are no guarantees, no matter how smart, how strong, how determined, or how beautiful you are, it can be taken in a matter of seconds. Saying that there is a reason for something as terrible as this, to me, seems disrespectful to you, your family, and your friends. I’ll never be able to understand why this happened. Now I have to come to grips with it. Maybe it’s all a part of the mystery of life. If someone had it all figured out, with no questions left to ask, what would be the point in living? Maybe the worst kinds of tragedies send shock waves to hundreds of millions of people to get over our differences, get out of our own ways, and to love one another unconditionally.
In your Oscar-winning video, Dear Basketball, you remind us to savor every moment that we have left, the good and the bad. To give each other all that we have. That no matter who we are, we will always be a kid at heart. You gave us lessons to live by, told through the medium which you were most familiar with. Basketball.
This morning I was not thinking about how fortunate I have been in my life. I was not counting how many things I have had gone right for me, and how lucky I am to have such great family and friends surrounding me. But tonight, I am thinking about how grateful I will be to wake up and see another day. Tonight I am thankful for what you have instilled in me, shown me, and taught me.
You showed me that hard work does pay off.
You showed me resilience.
You showed me how to never be afraid of doubt.
You showed me that obsession can be your best friend.
You showed me that by being your best self, you can inspire millions.
You showed me to never be scared.
You showed me that basketball wasn’t it for you, that family came first, and that writing and storytelling aren’t just for a select few.
You taught me that when you think you’re working hard enough, you can always press a little further.
You showed me that in forty-one years, you can leave a stamp on the world.
Thank you for being a mentor, an inspiration, and so much more. Thank you for always giving one hundred percent. Thank you for being someone I always will look up to. Thank you for giving a young kid a dream. Thank you Kobe.