Sunday, Jan. 26, I was lying on my bed scrolling through Facebook when an article crept in through the dog videos and corny posts from family members. The headline read, “Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash.” I could’t believe it at first because TMZ had reported it. I thought it was one of those death hoaxes like that of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, which has spread twice in the past decade.
Just as I do with every article that seems a little farfetched, I decided to research it, and I saw that major media sources began to report the same thing. Kobe Bryant was dead. As time progressed, the news got worse. I would soon come to learn that Bryant’s daughter, Gianna Bryant, died along with seven other passengers. It all felt surreal, like a nightmare I couldn’t snap out of. The reality became more and more apparent as my Facebook and Instagram feeds shifted from a random assortment of things that brought me joy to an endless stream of memoriams that made me reflect in the silence of my dorm.
As I scrolled past post after post dedicated to Bryant, I was awestruck by the influence that he had on so many. There were even posts from people who probably haven’t shot a basket in their life, but they were affected by him nonetheless. The family of all those who were on board were mourning, the NBA was mourning, and I don’t think it would be too extreme to say that the world was mourning.
NBA games that Sunday made a point to include a moment of silence for those involved in the helicopter crash. The NFL Pro-Bowl did the same.
There were countless tributes in the days to follow, including Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban retiring Bryant’s jersey number, 24, from his team.
With a career 33,643 points, five NBA Championship wins, and a record of the second highest individual score in a game in history (81 points), Bryant had more than earned this respect. While he had a legendary basketball career, it was his “never quit” mindset for which he will always be remembered. Bryant made a Facebook post in 2012 towards a teammate that emphasized this mindset. “I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success,” Bryant said. “Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses.”
Bryant lived a great life, but with the impact he had on so many people, he truly can’t be gone. He will be remembered through people shooting shots and yelling “Kobe,” as well as the relationships he had with other basketball icons. He was an inspiration to so many players, and watching him play was the spark for so many people’s love for the sport of basketball.
While this is a very tragic time, I think that it really emphasizes what life is all about. Bryant made the most of his life. Of course he didn’t know that Jan. 26 would be his last day. We don’t know when our last day is going to be, and we aren’t guaranteed tomorrow, but it is given to us by God. We tend to put things off, thinking that we’ll be alive to make plans weeks, months or years down the road, but what we need to do is make the most of the time we have now.
Quit saying, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” and start doing things today. Quit making New Year’s resolutions and instead make resolutions every day. Find something to do, something productive. Never waste a day. Proverbs 16:27-28 reads, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop; idle lips are his mouthpiece.”
Don’t let fear hold you back from living the best life you can live. “If you’re afraid to fail, then you’re probably going to fail,” Bryant said.
As we remember Kobe Bryant and everyone who was involved with the helicopter crash, let us live like Bryant, stepping back and shooting our shot in life yelling, “Kobe!”