Kobe Bryant is Gone, but His Legacy and Lessons Live On: 40 Lessons in 40 Years Series

Kobe Bryant is Gone, but His Legacy and Lessons Live On: 40 Lessons in 40 Years Series

My kids kept asking me why I was crying as I watched them play outside. The news of the loss of Kobe Bryant and one of his young daughters, 13-year-old Gianna, along with their pilot, Ara Zobayan, members of the Altobelli family, John, Keri, and Alyssa, Christina Mauser, and Payton & Sarah Chester, has shaken me in a way that’s all too tragically reminiscent of a previous Grammy weekend.

We lost our beloved Whitney Houston Grammy weekend 2012.

For my generation, Kobe was a supernatural peer, an inspiration, a first celebrity crush, a surprise, a phenomenon, and a very distinct part of our lives for two decades. Some of us grew up with him. We watched him go to prom, saw him young and ambitious, trying to prove himself and crawl out of the shadows of his privilege and familial expectations. We watched him in awe break records, dominate the court, and find himself in conversations about “who’s the greatest of all time.” For some, he was loved and placed on a towering pedestal and others loved to hate him because of his “Mamba Mentality.”

Whether you are a basketball fan or Lakers fan or not a fan at all, it’s unequivocal that he changed the game and became a part of the fabric of pop culture. His work ethic and commitment to excellence was something at which to marvel. Even those of us who are conflicted and still angered by an egregious act of his past, find ourselves mourning this morning for those who lost their loved ones so instantly, unexpectedly, publicly, and finitely. We are mourning the loss of time. We are mourning for the children on board and left behind without understanding. We are mourning the loss of the greater portion of a family unit in the Altobelli family. We are weeping for the father and daughter love that was so visual and visceral between young Gianna and the icon she simply knew as “Dad.” I know this bond of a daddy’s girl with her father all too well.

When celebrities and those with great means perish precipitously, we are rattled because despite our better judgement, we sometimes see wealth as a provision of more time. We see our own mortality when we are faced with the loss of someone within our age range or younger. If the ones we see as nearly immortal can die on a random Sunday morning, then what is to come of the rest of us.

And, the lesson I’m reminded of after nights of holding my babies closer than usual and allowing my tears to fall on their cheeks is that time is NOT money. Time is precious and not promised. I’m sure no one that saw their end on that helicopter yesterday, worried about money. They did not think of their wealth in their last moments, and neither are those they left to grieve. They would trade it all for more time. Let us send our love to them and use our time to gift it to each other.

As much as we mourn the ones we love, especially when we feel it’s premature and unexpected, I am reminded that our life here, this in between time, is meant for the fulfillment of purpose. And, once that is done, all is well. That completion date varies for us all. Those of us left behind are naturally saddened by the physical absence, but can always be uplifted by the eternal spiritual presence and continuum of life in that form. In this, as difficult as it may be to grasp, we know there is no sorrow in completion. The sorrow is in leaving before purpose is fulfilled.

I truly believe the people who perished Sunday were complete, as horrific and untimely as it is to us. But, we are not. We are still here. We are still able to receive and release the breath of life. Let’s continue to grieve, heal, and live with a purpose of completion.

Just as it has been with the jarring reality of facing a new day without Whitney, Prince, and Nipsey, we are altered. For, we now live in a world where Kobe Bryant does not.

A Prayer to Love
Spirit of God and Love that dwells within us all, we have been humbled and reminded yet again of the fragility and sacredness of life. We know once we enter this world, we begin our journey towards leaving it. The time we spend in between is to honor You and love each other. If we’re fortunate, we get to experience the love of others in return. Thank you for the gift of life. However strenuous, painful, and challenging our experiences have been, we know that the exercise of receiving and releasing the breath in our bodies is a gift that is cherished. Thank you for Love and its inexplicable covering of forgiveness, understanding, and grace. We are worthy of it because You said so and created us to be its reflection. We come to You in this hour collectively because we’ve been shaken by our own mortality and that of those we revere. As iconic as any one person can be in our lives, we remember that their humanity is as friable as our own. Help us to use this lesson to love more and detest less; to give without expectation, to forgive more readily and learn our lessons more willingly. Help us to value this time in between and our connection with You through our exchanges with each other. Help us to seek our own healing to live a more optimal life. Help us never to forget our reasons for being in this in between. Thank You for the hard days and the choice to be grateful in the midst of it all.

The Bryant family welcomed their fourth daughter just last summer.


4 thoughts on “Kobe Bryant is Gone, but His Legacy and Lessons Live On: 40 Lessons in 40 Years Series

  1. Yes — all of this, yes. This perfectly sums up my feelings in this moment. “….we are rattled because despite our better judgement, we sometimes see wealth as a provision of more time. We see our own mortality when we are faced with the loss of someone within our age range or younger. If the ones we see as nearly immortal can die on a random Sunday morning, then what is to come of the rest of us.”

    1. It has really resonated with me in a way that makes me want to reflect on my purpose more. It’s not lost on me that he transitioned the morning after one of his records was surpassed by LeBron James.

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