A tribute to the legendary Kobe Bryant and his impact on my life

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant passed away Sunday morning and had a profound impact on my life.

Retired Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant died on January 26th, 2020 along with his daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash. I still can’t believe it.

I was 15 years old when Kobe Bryant, just three years older than me, became a Los Angeles Laker in 1996. I was initially drawn to the Lakers because I was a huge Shaquille O’Neal fan but I immediately identified with Kobe and became a fan.

Here was this supremely talented guy who was driven, worked hard and had no problem telling you he was coming for you all while being fresh out of high school. He had the audacity to challenge prime Michael Jordan. Not many have that level of confidence.

As I mentioned, I was 15 when Kobe became a Laker. That was also around the time that my grandfather had to have a triple bypass due to a heart attack and I had to go live with my mother while he recovered.

During that recovery, my grandmother had her second battle with breast cancer and she was gone by the time I was 17. Death is a tough thing to deal with at any age but especially during your teen years. I stopped playing sports and stopped caring about a lot of things in life but fortunately, I had Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Sports have a way of helping to take your mind off of things. We view athletes like they are superheroes and in some respects they are.

Kobe could do things on the basketball court the 99.9% of the world couldn’t. So when I lost one of the most important people to me in 1999, the Lakers were just starting a dynasty. It was Kobe’s excellence, winning, and highlights that brought me joy when my emotional pain was at an all-time high.

I never had the chance to meet Kobe Bryant but he had a tremendous impact on my life even if he didn’t know it. Years later when I got married I asked my wife would she like to go to Los Angeles to see a Laker game. We were getting married in Jamaica and I suspected Kobe would announce his retirement soon so the plan was to spend the second leg of our honeymoon in LA. We bought tickets to what would be Kobe Bryant’s final basketball game.

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From helping me get through the death of my grandmother to being there on my honeymoon 17 years later Kobe never knew that he was always there for me. What’s most interesting is I’m not alone in my feelings for Kobe.

Look to social media to see other fans sharing stories of what he meant to them. Fans all over the world are in mourning because we not only lost an icon but someone that felt like family. Correction. Was family.

I started the Laker Central Podcast and began writing for Lake Show Life because I was inspired by Kobe Bryant. Inspired to be more and follow my dreams. I will always be grateful to have such a connection with him.

To Vanessa, Natalia, Bianka, and Capri losing a husband, father and sister are one of the toughest things in the world. To Pam and Joe, I can’t imagine what you’re feeling having lost your son. To all the fans around the world, I know this loss weighs heavily on you as well.

The shock and pain of this tragedy will stay with us for a long time. I have no words that will make you feel better. I find myself tearing up every so often and it’s just something we all have to go through.

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Let’s all work to leave the type of impact that Kobe did in our own lives and with our own families. He was one of the best of us and he will truly be missed.