From Airball To Hall Of Fame Ball

January 27, 2020
1,215

How do we process the loss of a loved one?  It can be devastating when a family member or someone close to your heart dies...so it’s understandable when we compare the love of sports, and how it births a passion.  The euphoria of watching your favorite team win can be intoxicating, however, there is a flip side to the joys winning breeds, and it's pain.  When your team loses, it feels like you’ve lost too.   When your team or player feels pain...we feel it too because we live vicariously through their achievements.

On Sunday morning, the Bryant Family lost Kobe Bryant and his 13-year old daughter, Gianna.  

So did the world.  

Kobe’s family of fans all over the world who were fortunate enough to be entertained by the Greatest Laker Ever, watched, as the clock struck 0.00 for the last time on Kobe Bryant’s life...and the way he’ll forever capture our hearts and imagination.  Kobe had taken his last buzzer-beating shot for the win.

Dealing with the loss and celebrating a life at the same time can be an emotional rollercoaster, and it’s an experience each individual handles differently.  When the person you’re celebrating is an inspirational icon, there’s a duality to it all, and it becomes surreal.  Outside Staples Center, aka, The House That Kobe Built, there were tens of thousands gathering attempting to do both....inside Staples Center the Grammy's are celebrating music and life which are synonymous with joy and pain...so help me Rob Base.

I can remember where I was when Magic Johnson announced he had contracted the HIV virus...Living in Las Vegas at the time, driving on Maryland Pkwy listening to the radio when the news broke.  I remember pulling into a parking lot and just sitting there what ended up being two hours...in a daze.  At the time it felt like a death.  

On Sunday, January 26, 2020 I was on my couch when my phone buzzed...  I've been crying off and on ever since thinking about life...I even found myself laughing.   Jim Valvano would be proud of me because I did the three things he said we should ALL do...EVERY day.  I had a full day.  I laughed...I spent time deep in thought... And my emotions were moved to tears.  Seven words...”Don’t give up...don’t ever give up.”

#FightOn...#Don’tGiveUp...#MambaMentality

All of the battle cries and motivating phrases are only words unless those words are put into action, and Kobe’s actions were deafening compared to his words.

My pain.  Your pain.  It all pales in comparison to what Vanessa and the Bryant family are feeling.  Joe Bryant has to bury a son.  Vanessa and her three surviving daughters have to look on as a 41-year old husband and father is laid to rest.  

I remember watching Kobe’s first NBA Summer League games at the Pyramid on the campus of Cal State Long Beach and being fortunate enough to get his autograph on his high school rookie card.  I also remember Kobe’s last game as a professional when he dropped off a 60 point effort as a going away gift to his fans.  

Kobe Bryant would take his opponent’s heart and soul if it meant winning or losing.  But Kobe was also giving back at the same time...he was teaching...he was teaching people what it takes to be the best because he learned the gard way .  

Kobe’s last day on earth was a continuation of his gift giving...Kobe was on his way to teach kids and watch his daughter compete at his Mamba Sports Academy...It was the gift of teaching the Mamba Mentality  to our future athletes, dreamers, and life’s achievers.   I’m confident the one message Kobe would want everyone to strive for is to "Be the best in the moment."    

When life starts to tear us apart, sports has a unique way of bringing people together, and if one person can be the glue, Kobe, would be the guy. 

My heart is broken and I'm out of glue.

Tags: USC
 
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