The tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and with eight others, including his daughter Gianna has caused my family to reflect on the fragility of life. It has reminded us of the importance of our bond as a family. We need to remember to be grateful for the moments we share together. My feelings about Kobe's legacy are conflicted, as I grew up in the era of Michael Jordan. I have difficulty embracing any greatness outside of MJ’s in the sport of basketball. Coupled with my personal disdain for the Lakers, and it has been challenging to accept Kobe from a basketball standpoint. Perhaps, more importantly, I recognize that Kobe as a human had may flaws, not the least of which was his actions in Eagle, Colorado. My personal reservations aside, I cannot argue with his legacy. It is no secret that Kobe is legendary for the fanatical discipline he exhibited while playing basketball. He put extra hours in pursuit of perfection as a player. His attention to detail may be unrivaled. I respect that, but there is a cynic in me when I hear those stories. We celebrate winners in our society and admire their grit as they have persevered in the pursuit of success in business and sports. Those stories or nice but not unique. Since Kobe’s death two days ago, however, a lot has been said about his second act post-basketball. The most moving to me is his dedication to his family. I have learned that he applied that same fanatical discipline in the pursuit of being a father and husband. As a father of two myself, I think there is nothing more important than my family. I can genuinely respect someone who will apply their relentless focus to the pursuit of becoming the best family member that they can be.
My son is not burdened by Kobe’s imperfections, nor does he care that he’s not MJ. Kobe was one of the first athletes that he admired, and he, like many others, is taking this tragedy quite hard. Even my daughter, who does not have any real relationship with pro basketball, has personalized this tragedy. For my son, it is a reminder that we are all mortal, including someone larger than life like Kobe. To my daughter, the tragedy is that several families are now forever changed. There is a girls basketball team in mourning because they lost their teammates, friends, and families.
These reactions I expect, but as a father of a teenager and a tween, I often am shut out from their true feelings. I only get to know what they tell me, but through the magic of social media some time, I get to learn precisely what is going on in their mind. My son Luke posted this on Instagram last night before he went to bed. It brought me to tears, knowing that there is a compassionate, thoughtful human being that cares about more than just Fortnite and his next meal. Here is what he posted, and frankly, his words are far more meaningful than mine.
i know that this is not a typical post for me, but i wanted to say that way the world came together these past two days because of kobe’s death was nothing short of amazing. Being a lifelong kobe fan, me and others around the world, are heartbroken by the loss of a national icon and a future national women’s icon, gigi bryant. The selfless nature of the Bryant family is something we all need to strive for. Some of you may not know, but Kobe had a moral called “The Mamba Mentality”. This basic idea of striving to be the best at whatever you are doing whether that is school, sports, etc. The ways we came together to mourn the loss of these amazing individuals but also celebrate the legacies they left behind is something we all should learn from. As a society of all different races, ethnicities, and cultures, our sense of unity became one these past two days. If we kept the sense of unity between us, no matter the circumstances around us, the world would be a beautiful, positive place. Tomorrow is never, ever promised and i wish that it could be, but that is the sad truth of our world. Take the time to think about your loved ones and the ones we lost this weekend. Think about their impact on you and how you can become a better person by being mindful and sensitive to the things surrounding you. -Luke
It is difficult to find happiness in the face of such a tragedy, but I am grateful that the experience taught me more about my kids.