Written by Big Man on Campus on January 27, 2020
It’s Monday January 27th, and like most Mondays, I wake up somewhat malaise. But… after grabbing my black coffee and a face wash I generally pick it up. Today not so much. Yesterday, the great Kobe Bryant was taken, along with his daughter Gianna and 7 other beautiful souls. Sports and our lives stood still for a minute. We didn’t know Kobe, but we felt we did. His charming and hard working nature pulsated to anyone that watched him or listened to him. A basketball and cultural icon, gone far too soon.
I remember the first time I saw Kobe Bryant, I was a young kid. I as a child was always much too old for myself. I never watched cartoons or kid shows. It was basketball or news programs. I’m not sure why but none of that stuff I ever gravitated too. Back then, as I’ve talked before about my grandfather was instrumental in talking to me and teaching me about sports and many weekends I’d go to his row home on a quaint Lancaster city, PA block and we’d watch sports mostly our Eagles and Sixers. He raised me to love them and I vividly remember those words from the great Kobe Bean Bryant before my beloved team would take on the basketball giant Lakers in the 2001 NBA Finals.. “I’m gonna cut their hearts out” Kobe approximated as he was asked about the 2001 Finals. Now Kobe was from here! His father played here, he was a Philadelphian. He was a guy from this area. I couldn’t understand as a young boy why he would say that. I thought to myself, how could he be so cold? I remember watching as Kobe and Shaq ripped any chance at a championship from me, which by the way I’m still hoping for to this day, 20 plus years later. I was sad and Kobe quickly turned into a my personal basketball villian. I was 12 years old. Things are different when your young.
But, as all of us do we grow up. We fall in love with different things. I from those days on was captivated by the game. Kobe Bryant went on to win many championships after that and arched his name into the books as the best player of my generation. I grew to respect and fall in love with his game. The countless hours he spent working on himself and his game. His tireless love and will for everything including his family. From not flinching when Matt Barnes tried to punk him. To Morris Peterson giving all he had to try and guard him and Kobe still dropped 81 on him. To his 61 point outburst at the Garden. When he scored 60 the last game of his career, to my favorite personal memory of when he came back here during his retirement season.
The relationship between Kobe and this area was never really understood by outsiders. It was villainous but it ended with love, and most importantly respect, but it was consummated here the year he retired. We honored him and his talents. We all realized the job he did for most of us and how he shaped our loves for the game. I think at that point, we realized it was all business for him, and we had to respect him. He was one of us, no matter where he played.
Thank you Kobe for sharing your talents and will to win with us. You made me love the game and understand competitive fire.
On this day, the day after, I pray for Kobe, his beautiful daughter, the family and to the other people involved as well.
Kobe will live on, and we will remember him for what he was. A true basketball legend, but also a terrific human being who was just beginning his new life. He was an amazing father and WE ALL KNOW that might of been what he was best at.
Volare In Alto Kobe, Gianna, John, Keri, Alyssa, Christine, Sarah, Payton and Ara