In the wake of Kobe Bryant’s death, I find myself, for the first time, grieving the death of a celebrity.
It is now that I know that I’m not crying over a celebrity, but rather a hero and inspiration. Truly, yesterday was one of existential dread and deep hurt.
Kobe Bryant was the ultimate competitor. His dedication to his craft was admirable to me. Not only in basketball, but also in the world of creativity. In literally everything he did, he poured everything he had into the things he was passionate about. We saw a man reach levels of human potential that very few people can hope to reach in life. He was too big to die in my eyes. He was immortal. He was too young at 41.
Basketball was one of the first things that I latched my identity to. I’ve been following the league since 2007-2008. Kobe and the Lakers were one of the first teams that I was a fan of. He was like magical. At that point in his career, he had already become an icon in pop culture. Everyone knew who Kobe was, wether they loved or hated him. I tried to play like Kobe. I was MAD on the court. Although I wasn’t very good, I was making the same faces, the same mannerisms as Kobe.
I remember Kobe’s last game before he retired. I wore my bootleg Kobe jersey that I bought from a flea market in Phoenix, AZ. I sat through the whole game as the Jazz let Kobe shoot enough for 60 points. I was the only one in the lobby watching the game. I cried at the end when he said, “Mamba out.”
In his retirement, he was as creative as anyone could ever hope to be. Creating Oscar-winning projects, writing award-winning books. My basketball hero, my childhood hero had then turned into my creative hero.
Every day I struggle to put in the effort needed to be great. Every day, is a challenge to progress. Every day, I want to be the best I can be.
Like how people wanted to be “Like Mike” I wanted to be Kobe.
As I mentioned, Kobe’s death really brought into my perspective just how fleeting our world is. If Kobe Bean Bryant could go, we can all go. This troubles me because I hate thinking about my own mortality. I really do. Yet, I have to come to a point where I can be happy to die. It’s a race, you see, to reach my happy because I might not be around for long enough to reach it at a leisurely pace. This I understand now.
I also would like to take the time to say sorry to anyone that I have ever wronged or held a grudge against. Friends of the past, I apologize for leaving the taste of hate or disappointment in your mouth. I stayed up late last night thinking about who I am. I cannot go another day without saying I’m sorry. Because if I were to die, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to say so. So I don’t want to put if off because I don’t know what is to come. I don’t know if anyone one of you will ever read this, but the chance isn’t zero, so I hope that one day you might stumble upon these words. Some of you know who you are and some of you don’t.
For those that do know, I would like to say I’m sorry in person, but I think that’s not on the table at this point for whatever reason that may be. Regardless, I can’t do anything else than to apologize as humbly as I can. I am sorry and ashamed of what happened.
For those that don’t, perhaps that’s better off. Yet, the cosmos can maybe gift you luck.
I also would like to take the time to forget any gripes I may have with anyone. I can’t harbor negative emotion for anyone other than myself anymore. I would be devastated if tomorrow I woke up to learn of your passing and I didn’t look at you prior with love.
At the end of the day, there is life and there is death. All the gray nuances of life seem a lot more trivial when I look at it like that. As we progress from one side to the other, I can now only try to practice what makes me happy and make sure those I love know I love them.
And in true Kobe fashion, perhaps I can do it with every fiber of my being.
And I know that sounds pretty hippy of me but that’s whatever.
I don’t know what I want people to think when they look back on me after my passing. I guess there’s more work to do in that regard.
I hope you all get to or get back to your happy.
I love you all.
RIP KOBE. MAMBA FOREVER.