Kobe Bryant. Gone too soon.
Kobe Bryant’s death hurt.
Yesterday was heavy. Just burdened with sorrow and grief. Sleep was far and few between. I found myself completely heartbroken for a man that I only met a couple of times. If Kobe Bryan’s death hurt me this much, I can’t imagine what each family is going through.
To the Bryant, Altobelli, Mauser, Chester and Zobayan families, we are all so sorry for your loss. Our prayers are with you in this horrible time.
Why did Kobe’s death hit so hard?
Is the loss of Kobe Bryant limited to basketball fans? Of course not! Yes, Kobe had the rings, the MVPs and all of the highlights. Watching him play on the court was something else. But, his legend surpasses his five rings and 81-point game.
His impact on the game of basketball, a city, and the world is now just being fully realized. It’s not the dunks, and-ones or championships that I remember most. Because I gained more from his interviews and wisdom in his later years than I did from watching him play. Kobe’s game was brilliant, but his mentality was everything.
It’s that Mamba Mentality
A phrase synonymous with Kobe, meaning unwavering commitment and dedication. Attacking your goals with relentless passion, the Mamba Mentality was beyond what most of us believe capable. He took what Michael Jordan did and took it to the next level. Showing us what greatness is on the court is one thing. However, Kobe Bryant taught us how to achieve it. In his Oscar-winning, animated short “Dear Basketball”, we learned that his mentality was fueled by love.
Although some criticized Kobe Bryant for his attitude towards teammates and their effort, hindsight shows us that was love. Tough love, yes. But love nonetheless. Kobe wanted everyone to dedicate themselves to the game like he did. Because he loved basketball with everything that he was. He left everything on the court, regardless of practice or game. And he couldn’t imagine that anyone else didn’t have that love.
But he also loved his teammates, his friends, his rivals. Living by example, Kobe showed players how to do it. Through his mentality, they learned to continue to strive, push, learn, grow and struggle to greatness. He pushed good players to be great and great players to be legends.
He did everything to the best of his ability. We know this because the stats, the accolades and the accomplishments show that. Kobe put himself in the discussion as the best basketball player of all time. Ultimately, his basketball life impacted the world. He was the 800-pound gorilla in the room.
Yet somehow, he will be remembered for so much more. His life as a father and husband defined his life more than 20 years in the NBA.
Kobe Bryant the father and husband
Like in basketball, Kobe Bryant led by example as a father. His love and tenderness warmed out heart. We all saw it with the way he acted with his family. He completely dedicated himself to them. The wisdom he imparted to us fathers was well beyond his years.
Recall that we were ready for Kobe Bryant the basketball player to show up as the father. We were ready for toughness, grit, and pain. Expecting him to be hard, demanding, and grinding on his kids, he surprised us. Instead, he encouraged curiosity and tried to pique his child’s interests. Again, just like in basketball, he went further than being great because he helped us be great. Kobe modeled hard work, dedication and an ever-growing understanding of children’s needs.
The Black Mamba was fierce, deadly, but also loving
During his legendary career, we only knew Kobe Bryant as the Black Mamba. Deadly. Fierce. He could break opponents’ wills at any moment and strike with venom. Every player feared the Mamba.
But, underneath the deadliest snake in the world’s skin was a giant heart of gold. Hidden beyond the leathery exterior, we know his heart and soul were filled with love and compassion.
Kobe Bryant’s massive impact on my life
There have been three athletes in my lifetime that impacted my life in major ways:
- Michael Jordan,
- Kobe Bryant
- Steph Curry
However, none was biggest than Kobe Bean Bryant.
MJ made me love basketball and believe I could fly and do superhuman things. Steph Curry helped me articulate my redefinition of manhood and how much character and personal boundaries impact success.
But Kobe, he made me change my allegiance. I grew up a Michael Jordan and Bulls fan. It was MJ all the way. No Lakers, all Bulls. Then, the team broke up and my basketball heart was broken. Later, in college, I watched the episode of Beyond the Glory about Kobe Bryant. Instantly, I related to his story and his life. Both Kobe and the Lakers stole my heart. And it hasn’t wavered since. I even wrote an open letter to Kobe when he retired.
My only regrets in life are when I didn’t live with the Mamba Mentality.
- Giving everything you have until the task is done
- Extreme dedication to the things you say, you love and want the most
- Enjoying the hard and arduous process of building greatness
- All the while, striving to be cultured, educated, and thoughtful about things outside your love to learn new ways to love your love
It’s hard. That level of dedication and love is unreal. And only a few have it within them to outwork everyone, every day. But now, with Kobe’s example before us, we can strive for that Mamba Mentality. Let’s get to work.
The greatest gifts I can give my kids are:
- Love of God
- Love and Dedication to them
- My example as a husband/father
- The Mamba Mentality.
He left us abruptly but left us with so much. I’ll miss you and your teachings, Kobe Bean Bryant.