Breaking news pierced the serenity of a Sunday morning with razor-sharp precision, drawing emotional blood as the story unfolded. Kobe Bryant was dead.
Dead. At 41.
The words stung and did not get easier to swallow or comprehend as the day wore on.
News anchors and fans choked back emotion.
The news of his death in a helicopter crash in California was paralyzing. Kobe Bryant transcended the world of sports. He was a role model for anyone with a relentless drive and determination.
Though Southern California claimed him as its own, Kobe Bryant was beloved around the world.
Bryant, 41, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna were among nine people who died after the Sikorsky S-76 helicopter they were on crashed in unknown conditions just before 10 a.m. local time on Sunday in the Southern California neighborhood hills of Calabasas. They were on their way to a basketball game.
Kobe Bryant wasn’t just a basketball player. He was a man with integrity both on and off the court.
He understood the meaning of loyalty. Recruited by the Los Angeles Lakers right of high school, played with the team who brought him to the dance for 20 years. He never sold out to the highest bidder. He had a commitment to the Lakers and to his fans.
Kobe Bryant understood the value of a solid work ethic. He would shoot 1,000 baskets at a time, to make sure he could make the next one. He never took his talent for granted.
His 1,0000-watt smile was infectious. He created a feeling that drew people to him.
He was a devoted husband of 18 years and a loving father of four daughters.
Kobe Bryant excelled. He won five NBA championships. He was awarded NBA MVP in 2008 and NBA Finals MVP in 2009 and 2010.
In 2018, Bryant won an Academy Award for his animated short “Dear Basketball,” based on a poem he wrote in 2015 when he announced his retirement.
His moves on the court were mesmerizing, at one point, scoring 81 points in a single game.
This was not supposed to be the end. Many sports analysts say Kobe Bryant was just getting started.
We mourn with his wife and surviving daughters.
Godspeed, Kobe Bryant.
- Kobe Bryant: Shutterstock