What you should learn from the death of Kobe Bryant

Miles Richardson | Staff Writer

Sunday, Jan. 26, a tragedy took place. Legendary NBA basketball player Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna lost their lives to a helicopter crash. There were, unfortunately, seven other victims: Alyssa Altobelli, Gianna’s teammate; and her parents, John and Keri Altobelli; Payton and Sarah Chester; and pilot Ara Zobayan. 

When TMZ dropped the news, a lot of us were filled with feelings of denial and devastation. It felt unreal to hear that Kobe Bean Bryant, our hero, the mogul, was gone forever, and there’s a reason for that. Most of us are aware that people die every single day, and yet we normally don’t think twice about it.  

Every day, stories of death are aired on the news, and while we give these stories a moment of sympathy, we typically have no problem continuing on with our normal daily routine. After all, we understand that death is a natural occurrence. That’s the sad reality about life; it isn’t guaranteed to anyone. 

At any moment, any of us could drop dead. In most cases, the cold, hard truth is that it just wouldn’t change much. Of course, all life matters, and most people wouldn’t blatantly say that they don’t care when they hear a story of someone passing in the news.  

However, I would like to challenge all of you to really think about the last time you heard about the death of a person, not a famous person, but just a regular, unknown, everyday person. 

You probably took a moment to say, “Wow, I feel sorry for their family,” but odds are that was all the attention that story got out of you: one moment. Once it was over, you turned off the TV, made a sandwich and went on about your day. 

This, however, wasn’t anything like those times; this was Kobe Bryant. Once the news was released, I watched with my own eyes other people break down into tears, stay inside all day, cancel all their plans and lie helplessly in bed. This wasn’t just because Kobe was famous. 

There are plenty of famous people that wouldn’t receive the same reaction Kobe did were they to die tomorrow. There is a reason why Kobe Bryant’s death affected so many people around the world. It’s because he did what very few people on this earth ever do; he found a way to serve the masses.  

Kobe Bryant wasn’t just a superstar basketball player, he was a humanitarian.  

Hampton University freshman broadcast journalism major Diego Medina had this to say about Bryant’s death: “I was never a big basketball fan, but I have to acknowledge his greatness. A lot of people looked up to him. He inspired many people and impacted many lives.” 

Basketball was just the means Kobe used to inspire people. Every time Kobe stepped onto the basketball court, he lit a fire under every human soul that watched him play. Not only was he about winning, but he was also about being the absolute best he could be. He never made excuses or accepted any of life’s limitations, and through his performance, Kobe managed to uplift millions of people.  

According to HU freshman business management major Jackson Jefferson: “He was just so inspirational to me and all my other friends. He’s the reason I started playing basketball. He had such a huge impact on the game and other sports, too. That ‘Mamba mentality’ is what motivates so many boys to get out of the hood.”  

He instilled in others the importance of having the “Mamba mentality” and made it clear that this wasn’t reserved for just athletes, but for any human being on God’s green earth who had a dream, anybody who aspired to achieve something great. Kobe served as a source of motivation for anyone who was an underdog in life.  

Whether you were a kid from the inner city, a war veteran with an amputated limb or a miserable person working a job you hated, Kobe made you believe that there was a better life for you. He made you believe that you could be more, do more and have more. Once that source of motivation was gone, many of us missed it. I’m sure many people didn’t have the energy to go into work following the day of Bryant’s death. Many people probably felt some sort of emptiness following the confirmation of his death despite not knowing him personally. That’s just how big of an impact Kobe Bryant had on people, and he’s been mourned by the whole world for days because of it.

So I’d advise anyone reading this to take a step back and think, if you were to die right now, how long would you be mourned?

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