Like a thief in the night, I steal these moments before sunrise to whisper indescribable pain. The pain of the dark tomorrow for someone who is a beacon of light.
My “Mamba” was more than a basketball star; he was a good man.
We’ve lost Kobe Bryant in a tragic helicopter accident in Calabasas. His 13-year old daughter “Gigi” was also among the 9 victims of the crash. It’s barely been a few days since the tragedy happened and the world has been frozen every since.
Kobe was a better man than he was basketball player and was the epitome of resilience, focus, purpose, and love. His leadership was a trait that echoed into some of my darkest moments. His focus was a trait that held me accountable for the seconds that laziness was attacking me. Kobe was a man who would always come back for more.
Fellow NBA legend Michael Jordan praised Kobe’s work ethic. With Jordan being known as another hardworking man, that’s surely one hell of a compliment. “He [Jordan] said Kobe had done that work to deserve the comparison. He says Kobe’s the only one to have done the work,” Roland Lazenby shared in Michael Jordan: The Life.
Bryant’s former coach Byron Scott told Business Insider, “I heard the ball bouncing. No lights were on. Practice was at about 11, it was probably about 9, 9:30. And I go out to the court and I look, and there’s Kobe Bryant. He’s out there shooting in the dark. And I stood there for probably about ten seconds, and I said, ‘This kid is gonna be great.'”
Great is an understatement. Kobe became the greatest.
Inspired by family values.
His work ethic wasn’t limited to the hardwood. Bryant worked hard at being the best father and husband possible.
-my heart broke when I saw the news that his final moments on earth included seeing his daughter for the last time. Though they passed together, I can only imagine the pain. Every time I see Gigi’s face, my heart sinks to the floor.
God bless her soul.
Being a man of familial focus has become one of the toughest parts of my manhood journey. If I can be frank, most of the world around us works diligently to destroy the idea of family – secretly. Our movies, music, and other forms of entertainment are plagued by the idea that self goes before family.
I’m not wired like that and I have no aspirations to be like that. I’ve always wanted to be like Kobe.
The world doesn’t want me to be like that either. Sometimes, I’d be a bystander in a small conversation about the joys of having a buffet of women to choose from, thinking about my future family the entire time. I never say much in those circles. Kobe is part of the reason why I was able to find peace in sticking out within those circles.
Family first, despite the early years.
Other than his early career infidelity issues, Kobe has been a stand up family man. His focus on family acted as a call to men like me to never lose sight of familial aspirations; despite fame, riches, and success. Kobe was a great example that helped me to develop a sense of stoicism among the waves of debauchery.
Kobe was not shy about sharing his ambitions of building a family. Here he is addressing a group of young basketball players talking about those passions. It’s rumored that a young LeBron James was among the crowd.
The “Mamba Mentality” helped build my confidence.
Kobe was not a man who was shy about his game or his abilities. He’s famously known for intense exchanges of words with other NBA stars during games. Not only did he never back down from a challenge, but he also challenged others. Whether you were on his team or playing against him, he wanted to see your absolute best.
Anything less? You’re getting exposed.
I said this on Twitter yesterday: when you are the first one in the gym and the last one to leave the gym, you can talk some trash.
A Kobe Lesson: you can talk a lil trash if you the first one in the gym 💪🏾
— BJ (@bjcxvi) January 28, 2020
Applying the laws of Kobe’s confidence.
For me, confidence has days where it visits me with an abundance of gifts. Then, I have days where I don’t hear a single word from confidence. Not a call. Not a text. Not even a tweet.
I’ve been like that for majority of my life. Whether in sports or in ministry, I’ve good days and I’ve had bad days. Whenever I would see Kobe or hear of something else he had accomplished, it would invigorate my confidence and allow me to pull the absolute best out of myself.
It’s because of that lesson that I learned from him. The one I mentioned before; You can talk some trash if you put in the work. It was in those moments of reflection that I learned that working hard on your craft and showing up to the “grind” every day helps to build the confidence that I’ve longed for in my life.
The “Mamba Mentality” will live forever because I will continue to carry the torch. So will you.
We’ll show up to the grind earlier than others and still make it home in time for dinner. Then when everyone goes to sleep, we’ll get right back to work. Every accolade that we acquire on our journeys will only make us hungrier for more. Also, we will stand tall in the face of the billions of distractions that impress themselves upon us daily.
Kobe’s legend will live on through you and I.
God bless the victims of Sunday’s horrific accident. Also, God bless their families.