So I wanted to take some time to actually sit down and write this with a clear head, very unlike the Mac Miller article I wrote all that time ago. If you know me or TFTB or anything about my life, few things were paraded around in my life than my love for Kobe Bryant.
And the thing is, so many people can say that. I know I wasn’t the biggest Kobe fan in terms of knowledge, but I could tell you about the times he made his high school teammates play to games of 100 simply because he knew he wasn’t going to be outworked. I can’t tell you about Kobe’s massive shoe collection, but I could tell you about the childhood he had in Italy where he had to wait till after the kids played soccer to shoot on the Basketball hoops because the hoops were above the soccer nets. I can’t tell you the number of variations of Lakers jerseys he wore in his life, but I can tell you how he had a team USA practice for himself for damn near 7 hours because he wouldn’t leave before making 800 shots.
I can tell you what it meant to me that Kayle got me tickets to see Kobe Bean Bryant play his last ever game against Lebron James in Cleveland.
Or what the Mamba Mentality meant to me
Or how my love for the Lakers was because of Kobe, even after he had left.
I could go on for hours about how Kobe was the athlete for me. Everyone has one or two, the guy or girl that is just immortal. The person who outworked everyone, the individual who proved that talent isn’t everything. Kobe, to me and to millions, wasn’t just an athlete. I understand that for some people the impact of his passing might not add up, but it’s unexplainable.
I fell in love with Bryant in Middle School when Austin Lange and I just kind of decided that was who we would love. I idolized the basketball player for many reasons, one of which was that well…he was the best. I went in depth on the first memories I have of Kobe on todays Two Beers Deep, but I really wanted to just lay out my thoughts here.
We had a blog publish already about how life is short and in times like this we need to live life to the fullest to appreciate how Kobe lived his. It’s this thing sitting in the back of my mind this entire year, cemented more now that we’re just lucky to wake up. Congratulations, you woke up today. You’re able to read this blog. It’s amazing. It’s a miracle that we’re alive today and that simple fact is why people have regrets on their death bed – they decided that every day wasn’t a gift.
Towards the end of his career, nothing was more pure than Kobe’s passion and love for not just the game but the athletes who were involved in his story.
I told Greg last night that Kobe was the first athlete that I thought “I can’t wait to see him grow old and tell my kids I watched him play”. His play, his passion, his intensity but more than anything, the love he had for life after the game of basketball.
It’s normal for athletes to struggle with identity after their career. Kobe seemed to just want to win. He dove into the stock market, ventured in the wine business, invested heavily into the E-Sports gaming world with Fortnite and so much more…including the love for his family.
Kobe loved his family. Kobe wanted to spend time with his daughters and wife. He coached his daughter. He cared about their interests. He wanted them to live the life he knew he could now provide. It’s beautiful and painful to think about the future that should have been, especially after watching last night’s airing of Kobe’s last game on ESPN.
I could go on forever, but I won’t. I can’t thank Kayle enough for the tickets to see the games, or my parents for all of the gear or my friends for the debates about who’s the goat and I can’t thank Kobe enough for being Kobe.
Also, yes. Thoughts and prayers and love and crying for the others involved in this accident, absolutely. Gigi was one of my favorite sports stories because of what was going to be. RIP to everyone involved. No one should ever have to feel that feeling. Ever.
I know this was in the other blog, but it’s one of my absolute favorite Kobe moments. It wasn’t about finishing your opponent, it wasn’t about defeating someone else. The Mamba Mentality wasn’t about just beating your opponent or your obstacles, because then you’re left with the “What’s Next” of life. The Mamba Mentality was about you being who you deserve to be, one step at a time.
I’ll never not cry when thinking of Kobe, but I’ll also try my ass off to never not live a moment of my life.