Sometimes people ask why we mourn over the death of a celebrity.  We sometimes mourn because we feel a connection to them, sometimes we mourn because we can relate to them and sometimes it’s because we wish they were as good as they were at their craft.  With basketball legend Kobe Bryant, it’s all three.  Kobe Bryant reportedly died in a tragic helicopter crash in Calabasas, California today.

Kobe Bryant transcended not only basketball but he transcended how people looked at the game of basketball.  Graduated out of Lower Marion, Pennsylvania and was the 13th pick in the basketball draft by the Charlotte Hornets.  The Hornets would trade their pick, Kobe Bryant to the Los Angeles Lakers for center Vlade Divac.  While Divac was no slouch, this trade is looked at one of the biggest flops of a trade the sport has ever seen.  Divac would not spend that long there before he went to the Sacramento Kings.

Along with Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant put the McDonald’s High School All-American game on the map.  That’s how much swagger he had as a kid.  Through his game, Kobe taught us to be confident in our abilities, which is why we connected to him.  Be proud of your accomplishments and be the best that you can be at your craft.  We saw glimpses of his greatness when Bryant would win the slam dunk contest and the coveted Sixth Man of the Year award in 1997.  We began to see greatness unfold because Bryant would play with such confidence and swagger.

Phil Jackson saw potential and began to coach the Lakers in 1999.  We remember the legendary three-peat team.  Yes, Kobe Bryant took out my Philadelphia 76ers in one of the NBA Finals, and we don’t and won’t ever forget the legendary Western Conference Championship that became must-see TV between the Lakers and the Kings, which many thought would replace the Lakers and Celtics.  During this time, we saw Kobe Bryant for those three years become the best player in the NBA.  When I think of that killer instinct in basketball, I think of Kobe Bryant during this three-year stretch.    I remember the final against the New Jersey Nets, Game 4 the one game the Nets were competitive in, Kobe kept yelling during a timeout, “we’re battle-tested”.  Kobe was right.  I’m thinking t

Plus, who can forget after the fall-out between Kobe and Shaq the people that wrote off Kobe Bryant.  I did.  Kobe proved me wrong by single-handedly beating the Big Three and the Boston Celtics to win yet another championship.  Later on in his career, Kobe would have an 81 point game against the Toronto Raptors where he couldn’t miss a shot even if the hoop had twenty layers of Saran Wrap over it.  As a send-off to an amazing career, he scored 60 points against the Utah Jazz.

Throughout his career, Kobe had that killer instinct that nobody since Michael Jordan possessed.  He showed no mercy towards his competition and opponents.  He would’ve gone through hellfire and brimstone just to win a basketball game.  We admire his competitiveness for that.  Kobe was also a quiet leader in his philanthropy starting the After-School All-Stars program that provided after-school programs to children in 13 cities.  He’s been an ambassador to the NBA for China, partnering up with a charity organization in China to help Chinese children with their education and health.  A lot of these efforts have paved the way for popularity of the NBA in China.  He also gave $1 million dollars to help our military veterans transition to civilian life after military.  Because of his philanthropy, Kobe makes us all wish we could have that much of an impact on other’s lives.  While he talked a lot in basketball, his charity was quiet, which is how charity should be.

There are no words that I have about Kobe Bryant passing away due to a helicopter crash.  He was always in the zone when it came to basketball.  He was so passionate about winning and being the best at his craft.  He was the type of he was an all star 18 times out of 19 seasons, he would lament about not being an All Star that one season.  Besides Jordan, there will never be another player with his killer instinct.  As loud as he was on the court(loud in terms of competitive loud), his quiet charity efforts spoke even higher volumes as he helped make the world a better place.  Let’s remember Kobe Bryant for being the best at what he did and for the good that he did in the world.

Heart and love goes out to Kobe Bryant’s family and friends and all that loved him, even the Lakers fans.  We are all Laker fans today.  Thanks for the memories in your amazing NBA career Kobe Bryant.  I say this with tears welling up in my eyes, I will always remember pulling your rookie card for the first time cause I knew you were going to be a special player.  You proved me right.  I also remember writing myself and the whole world writing you off when Shaq left you for another team.  You proved all of us wrong with that killer-instinct look you would get when you were in the zone.  What are you going to do with your life when you have people doubting you?  Are you going to accept that or are you going to rise to the occasion?  Kobe Bryant would not only rise you to the occasion but do it emphatically.

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