The Basketball community mourns the loss of Kobe Bryant

(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images)
(Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images) /

The basketball community and many people around the world are mourning the loss of Kobe Bryant and the eight other people killed in a helicopter crash Sunday morning.

Tears stain my keyboard as I write this, the reason why many people of my generation fell in love with the beautiful game of basketball, Kobe Bryant has passed away. Not only that, eight other people, including his daughter Gianna, were taken in the crash. People that were loved and gave love. People that had so much more life to give, in an instant taken from the world.

As a young boy growing up in Dublin, Ireland, basketball wasn’t part of our lexicon. Our main sports were soccer, Gaelic football, hurling and rugby.

I remember vividly my grand uncle Val coming to Ireland and meeting him for the first time. He brought me over gifts from his home state of California. A Los Angeles Dodgers Jersey and a Lakers Jersey.

I looked at the Lakers Jersey and asked who are the Lakers? With an amused smile, he simply said, “the Los Angeles Lakers are the heart and soul of sports in Los Angeles”.

Even though Val has since passed away, I thank him often for introducing me to a lifelong passion that has burned brightly for 20 years.

I came into basketball at the tender age of 10 in the year 2000. While watching the Lakers at that time, most eyes naturally gravitate to the larger than life Shaquille O’Neal. Standing over 7 feet tall and looking like a mountain, his charisma and equally larger than life personality jumped off the screen.

However, my eyes naturally gravitated to the young, full of energy and methodical 6’6″ shooting guard from Lower Merion High school in Philadelphia.

While Shaq had the flash and swag, Kobe Bryant had the mentality and drive that was not seen in people of his tender age.

(ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)
(ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images) /

Even from a very young age, not knowing much about basketball, still learning the basics and nuances of the game, I could see that Kobe Bryant was special. Not just in how he played the game but the love, respect and reverence he had for it.

His love of the game fuelled my love for it. His quest for perfection and his expectations of those around him to match his level of drive and intensity fuelled the Lakers to three championships in the early 2000s.

While a rift between Shaq and Kobe soon followed, the two players had genuine love and respect for each other, an unshakeable bond and brotherhood that even in death will always remain.

The greatest 1-2 punch in the history of the NBA will live on.

During the late 2000s, when Pau Gasol joined the purple and gold, Kobe finally got another chance to claim the Larry O’Brien trophy and he did so with both hands.

The bond he and teammates such as Pau Gasol, Sasha Vujacic, Lamar Odom and Derek Fisher shared were different from that of Shaq. Kobe realized the impact he had on his teammates and while he still demanded excellence from all those around him, he took on the role of mentoring those around him, to help them see things how he saw it.

(Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images) /

This trait was something that was not just reserved for players who played for the Lakers. Kobe was extremely generous with his time when it came to helping out all players.

Kobe seemed to relish the thought of other players wanting to take the game as seriously as he did. Passing his knowledge down to future generations so that they could continue the legacy of playing basketball the right way, using every ounce of their talent and realize their immense potential. I think Kobe was incredibly keen to let them know that they aren’t the next Kobe but the 1st them.

Coming towards the end of his basketball career, Kobe was at peace with the decision he had made to retire. He had put his all into the game he loved. He knew that his powers were beginning to wain but he didn’t want his last memory of him on a basketball court to be of him dissolving into a lesser player.

In his final basketball game, Kobe made sure that he left on his terms. Giving his every last ounce of energy, every bead of sweat every breath he could give to ensure that the Lakers got the win. Going off for 60 and ending his career on his terms.

While Kobe took immense pride and joy in playing basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers, it pails in comparison to the joy he took in being a husband and father.

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

Seeing Kobe with his children and his wife warmed each and every Laker fan’s heart because they realized that Kobe does not do anything half-hearted.

While a lot of his time and energy went into the game of basketball, now that his basketball career had finished, all the energy and attention to detail he put into being the best basketball player he could be would be fully going into being the best father and husband he could be.

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From an outsider’s point of view, Kobe took to the role of being the adoring, doting father like a fish does to water. The smile on his face as he spent time with his family gave fans of basketball solace as many believed that Kobe would struggle to get over basketball after his career had finished.

I never had that worry for Kobe. When he loved something, he loved it completely and without complexity.

I would be incredibly remiss to not mention his beautiful and talented daughter Gianna. Taken from this world far too young. Kobe and Gianna shared a beautiful bond together. While Kobe would love his daughter no matter what she did in life, you could tell that Gianna wanted to be just like her father.

Sharing the same curiosity for the sport of basketball, there are many videos and pictures of the two training and in deep conversation on how the game works. Kobe never seemed to talk down to her, treating her as a fellow student of the game. Passing down all his knowledge to his child is something that any father wishes to do and helping your child guide their way through life is something that brings true meaning and happiness to each parent’s existence.

13 is far too young to leave this world, my deepest and most heartfelt condolences go out to the friends and family of everyone involved in this devastating event.

(Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Baby2Baby)
(Photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Baby2Baby) /

Kobe’s legacy will live on forever, his pursuit of excellence, his dedication to his craft and the love he had for his family will live on forever.

Rest in Peace Kobe. Thank you for giving numerous generations of basketball fans the love and passion for the sport that you shared.

I urge everyone to hold their family members that much closer today, to let those in your life know that you love them and that you are there for them.

Life is so short and fleeting, put to bed any past grudges or disagreements of the vast. Live your life with an open heart and live your life to the absolute fullest as tomorrow is not promised.

(Photo by Maria TAN / AFP) (Photo by MARIA TAN/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by Maria TAN / AFP) (Photo by MARIA TAN/AFP via Getty Images) /

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To anyone reading this, feel free to leave a comment about your favorite Kobe memory. The Lakers are a family and for anyone struggling. The Lakers community has got your back.