Part 1 – Trivia Question
Which basketball player died on January 26, 2020, in a California helicopter crash?
Kevin Durant Michael Jordan LeBron James Kobe Bryant
The answer – Kobe Bryant.
The others are alive and doing well!
I’m not a big basketball fan, let alone one of Kobe Bryant, but I remember the day he died. I remember the grief felt across the country. I felt it too.
It was the details about that last day that made me want to write about him. They inspired me.
I put Kobe’s name on my list back in January, but when I saw the trivia question last week, it was a sign – time to write this post. Here are 5 fast facts from my source at Quizzclub that caught my eye. They show his character and say something about him, something great.
Part 2 – Five Fast Facts
1. Kobe played all 20 years of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Most players move around.
2. He went right from high school to the Lakers. I knew LeBron did, but not Kobe.
3. He was an All-Star for 18 of 20 seasons. It took 2 short years to make him one
4. He helped the Lakers win 5 NBA championships. He was picked twice as the Finals MVP – Most Valuable Player.
5. He led the NBA in scoring for 2 seasons. He’s #4 in all-time scoring during both the regular season and postseason.
No wonder he’s considered one of the greatest players of all time. But that’s not why I wanted to write about him. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you why!
My sources: More Info: en.wikipedia.org
The last time I saw Kobe was in 2004. It was a horrible time for Kobe, his family, and his accuser. He was involved in a court case. I felt bad for all of them. Everyone goes through dark times. It’s how you respond to them that says something about you. It does about Kobe.
Part 3 – Three Inspiring Stories
Story 1. NBA marriages usually don’t end well. There’s intense pressure from fame and travel. Kobe’s lasted until death parted them. It wasn’t perfect. It had its ups and downs. I am so impressed by how much Kobe and Vanessa went through, and still stuck together.
Photo Source: By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA - Kobe Bryant, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=85728664
The Bryants met in November of 1999. Vanessa was a high school senior, and Kobe was on his way to his first NBA championship, his third year playing ball. By May of 2000 they were engaged. They married in April 2001. By then the Lakers had 3 championships. Marrying so young, with so much fame, had to be difficult, for both of them.
The waves kept coming with a baby girl in 2003, the court case in 2004, a miscarriage in 2005, and another little girl in 2006. So much joy and so much pain in three short years for a young couple. It took its toll.
In December of 2011 they separated and were headed for divorce, but they didn’t. The Bryants reconciled in January of 2013. Not many couples can put a marriage back together. It says something wonderful about them, and the value they placed on family.
The Bryants had a third daughter in 2016, the same year Kobe retired, and a fourth in 2019. Kobe and Vanessa packed a lot of life into their 18 years of marriage. My wish, everyone’s wish, would have been for Kobe, Vanessa, and their four girls to have had more time together. My heart, my prayers go out to Vanessa who lost a husband and daughter, and to her three girls who lost a father and a sister. It’s hard to believe it was only eight short months ago. With coronavirus, it feels like forever.
Story #2. I watched Vanessa Bryant speak from the Staple Center Celebration of Life, for her husband and her daughter. Her words stayed with me. It’s one of the big reasons I wanted to write this post. Here are her words . . .
“Kobe was the MVP of girl dads, or MVD. He never left the toilet seat up. He always told the girls how beautiful and smart they are. He taught them how to be brave.”
But I discovered even more. I didn’t know Kobe stopped watching basketball, or that it took his 13-year-old daughter to bring him back to it. I didn’t know that he’d been coaching Gigi and her team for two years. Parents with daughters, can you imagine an NBA star coaching your girl? I think it says something wonderful about Kobe, and Gigi.
I also discovered Kobe became a partner in a sports academy where he’d coached Gigi. Imagine – inspiring your dad to get back into basketball, to the thing he loved 2nd best. His wife and daughters came first. WOW!
It was the love of his family that got Kobe into helicopters. I heard him talk about it in an interview. He could spend his time waiting in traffic, or, fly home faster. He chose faster. I’d call Kobe an MVFM – Most Valuable Family Man.
Story #3. Did you know Kobe Bryant was a practicing Catholic? I didn’t, until the day he died. That story stayed with me, and I saved it for last.
Kobe lived his faith, every day of his life, including the last one. That Sunday Kobe and Gigi went to early service. They took communion. They didn’t sleep in, skip church, then head off to Gigi’s basketball game.
They put church first and basketball second. Not many people do that. Falling short is easy, like rolling over and going back to sleep. Getting up, keeping the faith is harder.
Kobe wasn’t perfect. He said faith, and his priest, helped him through the hard times. He brought his family to Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Newport Beach. They became part of the faithful. Here are the words of Vanessa Bryant, and her faith . . .
“God knew they couldn’t be on this earth without each other. He had to bring them home to have them together,” said Vanessa, before telling her late husband. “Babe, you take care of our Gigi. And I got Nani, B.B. and Koko. We’re still the best team.”
“May you both rest in peace and have fun in Heaven until we meet again one day. We love you both and miss you. Forever and always, Mommy.”
My Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_Bryant
When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!