The death of Kobe Bryant marks one time (among many) in our country’s history where the loss of a stranger is felt by the masses.
The outpour of tributes after Bryant’s death was profound. Social media channels flooded with tributes from people Bryant never knew; people who have never even watched a game of basketball in their life; former teammates to supermodels he never met, they all paid homage to Mamba.
Among the most moving tributes was one made by Ellen Degeneres. Holding back tears, the talk show host gave advice that is applicable to anyone experiencing loss.
“Just celebrate life,” Degeneres says. “If you haven’t told someone you love them, do it now.”
One Twitter user shared the story of when he went to a florist to get a bouquet made in Bryant’s honor. When the florist recognized that the purple and yellow flowers were in memory of Bryant, she refused payment. Her reason? “It’s LA” — a place many people call “The House That Kobe Built.”
One Penn State student had the privilege of knowing Bryant personally. Bella McKinney grew up in Newport Beach, California alongside the Bryant family. She went to school with his daughters at The Harbor Day school, a private middle school in Newport Beach; Bryant was actively involved in the school.
“I didn’t believe it, I thought it was a joke. I felt like my community had been broken” she says of the moment she heard of his death. “He was a father figure to us all. He was a normal person. He was a good person.”
A father figure to many and an icon in the game of basketball, Bryant’s legendary name, and the impacts that he made, will live on forever.
Kobe Bryant once said “Either way, I refuse to change what I am. A lion has to eat. Run with me or run from me.”
Thank you for letting us run with you, Kobe. Mamba out.