More Than an Athlete: A Kobe Bryant Tribute

By Parsa Nozzari, Editor-in-Chief

This edition of The Commentary comes not just after the end of a decade, but on the heels of a tragic loss that shook the world.

On January 26, 2020, the world mourned the passing of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who were among the nine people boarded on the helicopter that tragically fell from the skies on a foggy Sunday morning in Calabasas, California.

I can admit it. I am not—and I have never been—a Lakers fan. But, one need not be a Lakers fan nor a basketball aficionado to appreciate Kobe’s influence. Regardless, Kobe’s family, friends, and fans were left with heavy hearts after he and Gianna passed away.

Like many others, I have always enjoyed watching basketball, and part of watching the sport meant learning to respect Kobe Bryant, one of the undisputed greatest athletes of our generation. Kobe’s accolades and accomplishments speak for themselves, but he distinguished himself in how he carried himself off the court, and in how he touched the lives of so many people on such a considerable level. I have no idea how many times I have (poorly) attempted to launch a fade-away jumper with a ball of crumpled paper into the nearest recycling receptacle, but I do know that each of those attempts was accompanied with the phrase “KOBE!” He was a part of us regardless of whether we knew it.

Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife and Gianna’s mother, eventually took to Instagram to break her silence on her husband’s and daughter’s passing:

“There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon . . . I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever.”

Without a doubt, the deaths of the passengers on board the Sikorsky S-76B helicopter reverberated around the globe, and it should remind us of the fragility of life.

That being said, it is easy to get lost in the busyness of our lives—be it in law school, studying for midterms or finals, or at work. The nature of our priorities in our quotidian routines can often mean trading time with loved ones or family for something else that is important to us, but that time should not be taken for granted. If you have not already done so, reach out to your loved ones today and let them know how much you care for them. If you miss someone, let them know.

A celebration of life in memory of Kobe and Gianna will take place on February 24, 2020, at 10 a.m. at Staples Center.

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