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Kobe Bryant: “Nobody hates the good ones. They hate the great ones.”

27 January 2020 Opinion


Kobe. Gianna. John. Keri. Alyssa. Christina. Sarah. Payton. Ara.

9 sons and daughters were taken from this world too soon.

There was so much more life ahead of them. So many more laughs, cries, triumphs, and defeats to be had. But that was not the plan in the grand scheme of things.

What we can appreciate are the impacts they all had in the short but beautiful lives they did live.

John Altobelli, a devoted father and beloved coach who was known as a great guy and someone who loved each one of his players like they were his family.

Keri Altobelli, known as a loving mother, wife, and a constant supporter of the Mamba Lady Mavericks.

Alyssa Altobelli, known as a young student-athlete who loved the game and loved her teammates.

Christina Mauser, known as a devoted wife, loving mother, and a coach who truly believed in each of her players.

Sarah Chester, known as a constant support system for her family and the Mavericks.

Peyton Chester, known as a constant hustler and dominant presence on the court at forward or at center.

Ara Zobayan, known as a talkative and lively man who was always there to help the Bryant family and as a great aviation teacher by that community.

Gianna “Gigi” Bryant, known as “little mamba,” but more importantly, she was “daddy’s girl.” Gi and Kobe were inseparable. Whether you spotted them at their own gym putting up hundreds of shots or courtside at a game, they were all smiles and laughs. She was a talented basketball player, a beloved teammate, and just had that it factor that so many saw in her father. Kobe has stated before that people would say that he needed to have a son, but he would say he already had all he needs with Gigi and that she was going to be in the WNBA. It is truly heartbreaking that we will never see her follow her father’s footsteps and create her own legacy. My thoughts, my prayers, and all of the positive energy I have are going toward the 9 victims, their families, their teammates, and friends. It is truly a sad day.

And last but not least I want to speak on this man. I can’t tell if I chose to write about him last because I still don’t want to accept this reality, or if it just feels right. Regardless, I need to get what’s been weighing my heart and head down since yesterday.

Kobe Bryant.

A,

son,

brother,

husband,

father,

teammate,

mentor,

coach,

philanthropist,

legend.

We all wear a lot of hats, but he wore all of these so well. It wasn’t because of his body. It wasn’t necessarily because of his mind. It was because of his heart.

Heart is immeasurable to the untrained eye.

Many talk the talk and look the part but when it’s time to walk the walk, they just don’t have “it.”

Kobe Bryant had “it.”

I could give you the whole Kobe Philly, to Italy, back to Philly, to LA story, but anyone can just look that up.

Kobe was a kid who may not have had the same upbringing as us, but he was us.

He grabbed anything that resembled a basketball and practiced making the game-winning shot in his room as a kid and continued to do that every time he practiced until the day he retired. That’s what made him special. He would wake up early and be done a grueling workout before most of us were awake. He’d then practice or train again before his team’s practice or game. He was built differently. He was built to last, and so was his legacy.

We can always appreciate his accomplishments at Lower Merion, for the Los Angeles Lakers, and Team USA, but people close to him would say that he was most proud of the family and friendships he built over the years. More importantly, the number of lives he touched off the people who never even met him. That’s legendary.

Millions around the world grieve. Jerseys with numbers 33, 8, and 24 flood streets around the world to honor one of the greatest to ever step on a basketball court.

Nothing bothers me more than when people say, “it’s just a game,” “you don’t even know that player,” “why do you care so much.”

I’ve seen “just a game” take a kid living in a two-room apartment with a single mom in Akron, Ohio to be one of the greatest and most successful athletes and entrepreneur in the world in Lebron James.

I’ve seen “a player I don’t even know” bring a young boy stricken with cancer to their practice facility, make his last year of life a dream, and wear his bracelet while leading his team to its first Super Bowl in its city’s history in Carson Wentz.

I care so much because, since day 1, sports have molded my friendships, my beliefs, my story and frankly, sports saved my life.

At a young age, I would spend hours shooting foul shots in my front driveway practicing that legendary jab step and then the transition into a jump shot that Kobe mirrored off of Jordan. Anytime I threw trash away or recycled a bottle, it was always, “KOBE!” as the item hit its mark. I would watch hours of his speeches or just videos of him talking about work ethic, practice, or just life. I would spend hours at the track by myself with videos of him or Eric Thomas motivating me to push for one more lap, one more sprint, or to flip the tire one more time. There was this mentality or just aura around him that just screamed success and greatness. It was the Mamba Mentality.

It’s truly a blessing to be alive during this time in sports. We are witnessing some of the greatest athletes and following some of the most incredible stories in history. Although it as cut short, Kobe Bryant’s story and legacy will live on forever.

Like Achilles and mythical figures, they will talk about the legend of Kobe Bryant. The man who went from high school right into the NBA and took the league by storm.

5x NBA Champion.

2x NBA Finals MVP.

NBA MVP. 18x All-Star.

11x All-NBA Frist Team.

9x NBA All-Defensive Team.

2x NBA Scoring Champion.

2x Olympic Gold Medal Winner.

An absolute legend in the sport of basketball and an absolute legend in the entire world of sports.

Life isn’t fair people. It’s the toughest pill you’ll ever have to swallow. You will get pushed down and pushed again before you even get a chance to get back up. People will die and it will never make sense. It’s not fair. But know this. The fact that I am sitting here and talking about this man should speak volumes. It should tell you that if you do work hard if you do accept the struggles in life and just laugh in the face of adversity while pressing on that you can be great. You can break the cycles that have plagued those before you and make your own story.

Be great when people are watching you. Be even better when no one is there to watch.

Love your people when they’re gone. Love your people every day before they’re gone.

Make sure you take advantage of all 86400 seconds of your day, because none of those are guaranteed.

Life is beautiful though and don’t forget that. The relationships and friendships we have all made. You can see how much this tragedy has affected the basketball and sports culture as a whole. A single man born in Philly has millions grieving over his sudden passing. Awful yes, but beautiful at the same time because we can see how far his life reached and how many people he inspired.

So if you want to honor his name, keep saying it.

When you teach your kids, nieces, nephew, or cousins how to play, show them how Kobe played the game.

When you teach your kids, nieces, nephew, or cousins how to give back to others, show them how Kobe tried to change the world through charity and acts of kindness.

When you teach your kids, nieces, nephew, or cousins how life isn’t fair but you have to keep pushing, show them how Kobe lived.

It doesn’t matter which team you root for, you should be rooting for people like Kobe. A man who was perfectly imperfect but through hard work, dedication, love, and empathy, he changed the world. When I have kids of my own, I’ll tell them that I witnessed the life of Kobe Bryant, a

son,

brother,

husband,

father,

teammate,

mentor,

coach,

philanthropist,

legend.

I wore 24 because of Kobe Bryant. Millions will continue to wear 24. His legacy lives on forever.

“I never imaged the end of the tunnel. I just imagined myself running of one. You asked for my hustle. I gave you my heart.” – KB