Remembering Kobe Bryant

When you hear the name Kobe Bryant, it’s easy to think of the games, the trophies, the posters, and the overall sports impact he had as Black Mamba. When someone dies whilst in the public eye, it’s as if the gulf fame provides gets larger, and their individual person is harder to scrutinize. Sloganing is everything to publicity, and with that comes a monolithic thinking to high-performing members of certain professions — be it sports, entertainment, or art. It’s easy to forget what makes someone within their revered position unique unto themselves, ironically reducing them into a noteworthy caricature because of perception’s categorical simplicity.

In Bryant’s case, it was his collective whole – not just his image – that made him exemplary. His irreverence on the courts was matched only by the grace and humility by which he conducted his life. In many ways, these attributes proved the winning cards for Bryant’s comeback at the 2010 NBA Finals, and his overall subversion of expectations. His loss is painfully concurrent to the never-ending conjectures of what he’d do next.

The day before January 26, Bryant was fresh off being a global ambassador for the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup in China, on the cusp of realizing animation production, and above all was finalizing his daughter’s basketball team at the Mamba Sports Academy. The shock of his death is challenged only by the timing of events, proving especially callous and cruel in their sudden upheaval.

Lao Tzu once said, “The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long.” Sadly that has proven true for many standing out. Marina Keegan, guaranteed a job at the New Yorker, killed five days after graduating Yale. Heath Ledger and his dream to direct a film, cut short at twenty-eight, just before his posthumous Oscar win for Best Supporting Actor. Brandon Lee, on the precipice of stardom, killed a week before his marriage to Eliza Hutton. It’s as if the universe plays cruel jokes on those most noteworthy, snatching them away when we’re most vulnerable in our perceptions of them.

The questions following become matters of separation. How do we remember them? How do we reconcile the incidents? Everything becomes a balancing act in both mutual and non-mutual exclusivity.

Mercifully, the math can spell out an average for those separations. When someone makes it a priority to have every second count, remembering them in a sense that does the most justice becomes easy. This is an obvious trait applicable to Kobe Bryant, who once said saying, “Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.”

Thus, as we continue to grieve Bryant’s loss, some small amount of solace can be taken in the remaining power of his legacy and what it means.

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