A few years ago, my cousin passed away in a motorcycle accident. He was 27. Just yesterday, Kobe Bryant, along with his daughter and seven other people, passed in a helicopter accident. While we mourn as a collective, I think it is also an opportunity to apply the “Mamba Mentality” to this situation the way Kobe would want us to, and see what we can learn from Kobe Bryant’s tragic death.
I have been a huge Shaquille O’Neal fan for YEARS. In fact, I was such a fan of Shaq’s that I felt obligated to not be a fan of Kobe’s back in the feud days, all the while feeling a sense of guilt in knowing that Kobe was a much harder worker and more dedicated to his craft than my (then) favorite basketball player. If you had told me then I’d someday be writing a blog about Kobe, I would have laughed in your face (and yes, I did have a blog at that time)
Over the years, however, I have definitely developed an admiration for Kobe. And with basketball having been such a huge part of my life that continues to grow (since I married a basketball player that now works in the NBA), it is probably no surprise that yesterday was a rough day that is spilling to today.
Just about every post in my feed was about Kobe – a friend reacting to his passing, his colleagues sharing memories, seeing the city I lived in and loved in mourn, and then all of the tributes at the Grammys.
In addition to those types of posts, of course there were others – the posts that either wondered why celebrity deaths were so important, posts that questioned the loss of Kobe due to the complexity of his legacy, with a focus on his misdeeds* as opposed to his impact, and others.
Those hit me hard, too.
In truth, most of the rest of my life will likely go on as it would have if Kobe lived to be old and gray… Yes, he was on my mental “I’d love to do their makeup” bucket list, and perhaps with the ties I have to the NBA, I would have perhaps met him. But it’s unlikely that anything is changing monumentally for me because of this, unless I chose to make it so.
And you know what?
As this article, shared by a high school classmate I was on the cheerleading squad with states, one of the reasons that a celebrity’s death can be so painful even for people who didn’t know them is that it is a reminder to all of us that every day is precious and not promised.
Whenever someone close to us (either literally, or because of their impact) passes, we usually all make the vow to hug those we know and love tighter, and make sure everyone we care about knows we care about them.
I think we should do the same this time, just as I suggested when my cousin passed. I’m not perfect at it, but I think I am continually improving on it.
But when searching for quotes to post today (because that’s a thing we do in 2020), I came across this one:
“I’m reflective only in the sense that I learn to move forward. I reflect with a purpose.” – Kobe Bryant
I think while we reflect on Kobe and who he was as a man, an athlete, a superstar, it’s key to take with more than the typical “appreciate the people who are here with us now because we don’t know if they will be tomorrow” thing.
Kobe was well-known for an insane work ethic. Many vowed to wake up at 4am in the style of Kobe this morning, to honor him. He valued greatness, perhaps above all else. And who would know it better than one of his teammates?
I thought that Luke’s explanation of what Kobe would say is beautiful and eloquent.
What can we do to be great today, and moving forward? How can we apply the Mamba Mentality to anything we do in our lives?
How can we seize today and all days, and put what we learn into action. Let’s go big or go home, not be afraid of failure or haters, and make what our dreams a reality – while hugging our loved ones close, and showing them appreciation!
*This may be its own separate blog post, but I need to address the sexual assault component of Kobe’s complex legacy: what he did or didn’t do is unknown to everyone but the two people in that room that night, and God. Kobe’s now with God, and facing God’s judgment. True Christians understand the component of forgiveness as well. But more importantly, now is not the time for this discussion. People are grieving, and have lost their father, husband, son, or friend. I pray that when I pass, no one is focusing solely on the worst parts of my life only.