A year ago today, Kobe Bryant and his beautiful daughter, Gianna, died in a helicopter crash.
For someone who was not a Kobe fan (yet deeply respected and honored his game), this is extremely devastating.
It is difficult to grapple that even such a legend of our generation still cannot out beat the calling of passing. What is even more devastating, is his daughter, Gianna, was killed right beside him—just while being a daughter, and participating in normal, dad-daughter things.
Lots of emotions have surfaced for both myself, as well as my surrounding network. Although many of us do not know him personally, he has left a personal mark on the culture of the black community, and on the profession of basketball as a whole. We have not just lost a person—we lost a symbolic statement in the development of our lives.
Not only was he a legendary basketball player, but he was also a husband and father, including of a newborn.
Not only was he a famous person that everyone knew from TV, but he was a pillar of hope to a lot of young individuals (mostly that looked like him) in the message that one day our talents would release us into unimaginable successes, as he did by being drafted out of high school and becoming one of the top five all-time scorers in history.
Not only was his name a catch phrase to say during an attempted shot of any item into any basket, but he was a figure who reconstructed and redefined the pace of basketball, as well as shaped a game for all of the upcoming “legends” to follow—Kobe was the blueprint for contemporary basketball. He also was one of the largest supporters of the WNBA and highly contributed to the exposure that it possesses today.
Not only was he just a husband and father, but he was a flawed man, only 41 years of age, who grew and transformed through his stages of maturation and developed into the man that was next to his daughter, I pray holding her, during their last breaths.
This is what makes this so real for us all. This is what makes this hurt—so much.
I reflect on this tragedy in multiple perspectives and I recognize that equally and validly, this impacts everyone who has a significant and similar role in such an occurrence. I hope to somehow transform such a shattering loss into a rebuilding and developmental future full of hope, healing, and peace. A legend as such deserves to live on beyond the inequitable cloak of death.
As a daughter who is very close to her father, I reflect on numerous trips we took together. We would drive an abundance of miles, even as my daddy was terrified of highways. But, he did it because I wanted to go, and he wanted to show me life. This situation could have been our fate many of times, and I can only give the highest gratitude so our Lord and Savior that we were allowed another day of light.
The fathers, though—I hurt for intensely. I can imagine (and ONLY imagine) the pain of watching not only yourself, but your daughter in danger, and knowing there was nothing that he could do to stop it. To protect her. I can almost assure that he was thinking about her more than himself. Thinking about his family, and what this would mean for them. I know in that split second, he thought about how the world would lose such an angel and he could not do anything to stop it.
Again, I pray that he could just hold her for that last moment.
To the fathers in the world, I know this moment is on the list for one of the biggest nightmares—not being able to rescue your daughter (or son) from the greatest danger. I want to dedicate this encouragement in prayer that it settles the anxiety, addresses the fear, soothes the pain, and activates the love.
Fathers—that is, present fathers—thank you for loving your daughter so much. Thank you for teaching them every single thing that you know, as best as you possibly can with what you have been given in life. Thank you for bundling them tightly, even if it’s in fear of letting them go, and being vulnerable with how much they mean to you. Keep showing them the ends of life until the very end of life.
Most of all, please know—
If there is a moment that you are not able to save them from danger, it is never your fault. It is terrifying to know that even as protective as you are, death can still somehow have the last word. The shivering feelings towards that is valid. As a woman, I can only empathize how that moment conducts for any father and his baby girl. You will do anything to keep them from danger. I can only imagine what was forced to play out upon his eyes as he knew this was coming, as any father would.
I pray that he was able to find some place of peace in that moment.
Fathers—again, present fathers—do not stop doing the routine things with your kids in fear. Don’t brace yourself for that last moment because, the unfortunate truth is, we never can prepare enough for it. And, the harder truth—in those last moments, you will snatch for all of the moments of joy that you experienced, so please make some available to grab. Inevitably, live life as full as you can.
Give all that you can. Go on the wild trips, teach the wild lessons, be present, be pouring, be their world. Somehow, daddies have the magical trait to do such. Because, in that calamitous moment, nothing could possibly bring anymore comfort than knowing dad is right here and has been giving everything of himself that he could until his final breaths. Whether it was flying to practices and games, teachings about life and about hooping, going to new places and trying new things, or just sharing a smile that no one in this world could replicate—
there is no one safer to end this life with, if it truly must end. No love that can replace.
Fathers—especially with daughters—I can only imagine how hard this moment is for you. It is almost paralyzing, I can imagine. Society teaches you that your one job is to protect and provide—provide protection. But, that isn’t true or fair. I am not Gianna, but as a daughter, I know that in my lasting seconds, it wasn’t because my dad failed me. My lasting seconds will remind me of everything I got to do because of him. And, although I was cheated out of life, I wasn’t cheated out of a daddy. That one thing may provide a little cushion, soft enough to lift her from the landing of the crash and straight into heaven. You, father.
So, fathers—let’s first take in this very tough truth—one day this devastating day comes (*breathe deeply*). But, also take in that it is so essential to make the most of life, each and every moment, assertively. It is impossible to brace for these moments, and the stiffness used to attempt it will take away from falling deeply in love with your legacy right in front of you. So, jump. Be vulnerable. Live like you never lived, and love like you’ve never loved. I can just imagine, if death REALLY had to happen like this, then it may have been the most comforting way for it to happen (as comfortable as a death can be, of course).
Your grief is valid. Your fear is valid. Your shutters are valid. And I pray that you find peace in this huge loss for us all, and to know that no matter what, your best will always be the world for your girl.
R.I.P Kobe, and thank you for leaving us so much hope and legacy to build upon.
R.I.P. to the precious Gianna, and know that your smile and your talent will inspire us all.