My Kobe Story

The crash itself happened over 24 hours ago, and I still can’t wrap my head around it.

Kobe Bryant was supposed to be immortal. Kobe Bryant was a global icon, the guy that everyone knew whether you liked sports or not. He had the tenacious work ethic that no matter if you liked him or not, you sure as hell respected him. He was a rare breed that was continuing to make massive career moves even after he stepped off the court.

Kobe Bryant seemed more like a mythical creature than he did a human. Everyone’s life has an end, but that doesn’t make it any easier to accept this. Kobe Bryant is dead.

The grand scope of the tragedy is no easier to accept. Gigi had a hell of a future, and Kobe enjoyed being a dad more than any game of basketball. John, Keri and Alyssa Albotelli, Payton and Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser and pilot Ara Zobayan all left this earth because of this. It just makes no sense.

I was an avid Kobe hater as a kid. I don’t see that as a bad thing, because sports would be very boring if you rooted for everyone you watched. I loved rooting against Kobe so much that it made me an OKC Thunder fan.

I was never big into the NBA as a kid. We have no in-state Missouri team, so it didn’t get much airtime in the house. It was OKC’s second year of existence, and the Thunder were the 8-seed taking on the defending champions in the first round. Those damn Lakers. OKC pushed them to the wire in that series. I found myself rooting for the Thunder so hard in that series – the thought of the Lakers losing to the 8-seed had me licking my chops. It didn’t happen, but I had such a fun time rooting for the team that I decided to continue to do it the following season, and the rest is history.

I only rooted for Kobe once in his career-his last game. I can close my eyes and remember the exact spot I was sitting on my couch as I watched Kobe drop 60 and lead the Lakers to a win one last time. I never rooted for him, but I knew the type of player we were about to lose. That was an incredible night.

I associate Kobe with names like Lebron, D Wade, Dirk and Vince. Those names of guys that balled out as I was growing up. I’ll forever hold the belief that the players you grew up watching will always be more special to you. Those guys that were prominent when my love of sports was growing. The guys who captivated the audience so much so that I decided to pursue a career that will have me involved with sports.

One last thing that I’ll always appreciate about Kobe was the Mamba Mentality. I always saw it as mostly arrogance, which it probably was, but I began to appreciate it as I got older and wiser. Now sitting at 23, months away from graduating college and about to embark in a career where seeing success requires a lot of work, I appreciate the mentality.

I love the idea of betting on yourself. Kobe didn’t care what you thought about him. Kobe didn’t care about a 12-year-old kid in Moberly, Missouri rooting for his downfall on the court. He balled out, then he let you know you were a damn idiot for thinking he couldn’t do it. I respect the hell out of that.

I’m heartbroken for the survivors of all nine victims. I pray they find a sense of healing. I’m heartbroken that we’ll never get to see what Gigi could do at the next level. I’m heartbroken that we’ll never get to see the extent of Kobe’s encore.

I’ve cried over this, and the last tears haven’t been shed. Something like this will never make sense. How something like this could happen is beyond belief. I’m just glad we got to experience what we did. No matter who you are, you knew Kobe. If you’re a sports fan, whether you loved him or you hated him, you sure as hell cared about what he did.

RIP Mamba

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