The Significance of Kobe Bryant

On the 24th of Febuary 2020 I watched Kobe and Gigi Bryant’s memorial at the Staples Centre. And as I sat there, teary eyed, listening to the people who loved Kobe and Gigi the most, I started to look at the magnitude of this event.

Kobe Bryant
Photo/VCG
Kobe and Gigi at the NBA All-Star Game in 2016
Elsa / Getty Images

On the 26th of January 2020, 41- year- old Kobe Bryant, along with his 13- year-old daughter Gianna, died in a helicopter crash in California.

My friend messaged us all, shocked that thee Kobe Bryant had died so suddenly, under such horrifying circumstances. This news alone was shocking enough. But as more information came to light, we found out that Gigi was also tragically killed.

An outpouring of grief showed on social media. The magnitude of this loss was felt all over the world, but no such more than in Los Angeles; Kobe’s home, and the place he spent 20 years as a Laker.

Hundreds gather at Kobe Bryant’s memorial outside Staples Centre, LA.
AFP Via Getty Images

Just Minutes after the news broke mourners gathered outside of the Staples Centre, the house that Kobe built. For weeks after, this was a place for fans to grieve the loss of a giant, a man who meant more to people than he could of ever known.

I was never a huge basketball fan. The closest I came was running around the room watching Space Jam. But that was the special thing about Kobe Bryant, he transcended basketball and became a person everyone could look up too. And this is exactly why his death broke so many hearts. Someone special can bring groups of people together with ease, and in doing so creates a family of people who may be completely different, but share so many memories together. That is also one of the best things about sport, and the reason why my appreciation for sport has grown over the years. I love the sense of unity it brings.

Los Angeles Lakers fans mourn the death of retired NBA star Kobe Bryant
Photo by Rachel Luna/Getty Images

For years people cheered for Kobe, there for his wins as well as his loses. Since 1996 Kobe gave people a way to escape, he was pure joy and entertainment. A celebrity of his calibre meant he was rarely away from the public eye, and people felt like they knew Kobe, not just the legend, but the person. And this is why the world hurts, grief stricken by this loss. They knew Kobe, they respected Kobe, they loved Kobe, in their eyes he was a larger than life figure, imortal. And seeing his mortality has been too much.

Kobe Bryant mural by Jonas Never in downtown Los Angeles 
Apu Gomes/AFP/Getty Images

There are some people who come into this world, who are destined to make an impact. And it’s not hard to see how much of an impact Kobe made, not just for basketball, but to people who looked at him, saw what he had achieved, and knew they could do the same. If there is a silver lining to his tragic passing, it is that even after his death Kobe is bringing people together through his love of basketball. I watched the Lakers first game after Kobe’s death against the Portland Trail Blazers, and have subsequently watched every other Lakers game since; i’m excited to see how the rest of the season goes.

Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, painted by @sloe_motions

Even if you did not know of Kobe, the tragic loss of lives is devastating. I couldn’t even imagine the pain this has caused to all the families involved. These beautiful people will be sorely missed. And never forgotten.

From top-left, clockwise: Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Christina Mauser, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli and pilot Ara Zobayan, died on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020

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