Rest in Paradise Mamba

Photo courtesy of Winslow Townson/AP

One of the greatest compliments I can give to a legendary competitor like Kobe Bean Bryant is that I rooted like hell against him, but I sure respected him.

As a Boston Celtics fan, I did not want to see him do well when he was competing against my beloved team. I also didn’t want him to take his team to championship heights and overtake the Celtics for the most championships in NBA history. As one of the best villains during my Celtics fan hood he gave me fits.

Throughout his career, though, I knew I was watching one of the best basketball to ever lace them up. The voice of the Celtics radio broadcast, Sean Grande of 98.5 Sports Hub, brilliantly and eloquently summed up today’s tragedy perfectly.

Kobe did break our hearts as Celtics fans on the court, but all that pales in comparison to how the world felt when the news broke earlier today. Kobe’s passing transcends Los Angeles, the NBA, the basketball culture and sports. He was an idol to millions across the globe and had hoped to make as big of an impact after his playing days as he did during them.

I didn’t want to insert myself into this post, but I think it is the best way to provide some context. I was celebrating with some family for lunch as my parents were visiting from Florida because my mother’s birthday is this week. When everyone’s phones started buzzing, we were all searching for words. More than half the people in the room couldn’t care less about sports, but it was all we could talk about for the next hour or more. Kobe, who is one of a handful of legends that can be recognized by one name, impacts well beyond the sports universe.

As I was driving home from our celebration, I had a long enough drive where I was able to do some internal thinking. First, I was trying to write this post in my head and I have re-written a few times since. How can I give this great man his justice in a blog post online? It may sound silly, but thousands of people will read this post and I felt pressure to get it right.

I realized that getting it perfect isn’t what is most important here. I am one of millions that wants to pay my respects to Kobe and his family. I have a larger platform than some, so I encourage a discussion in the comment section to pay your respects as well.

Kobe will be celebrated in the coming days, but please do not forget Gianna, Kobe’s daughter, who hadn’t even begun her life at just 13 year’s old. Let’s not forget the pilot and the others on the helicopter whose families are devastated as well.

It’s not always easy to carry on and imagine life when people are no longer in it. We’ve all lost someone before and you always hear that they’d like for you to move forward. I’d like to imagine that Kobe would have those same feelings for his family, friends and fans.

Death often time leads to celebration of those people that passed. And I can’t help but feel the corners of my mouth form a smile thinking about Kobe guarding Gianna aggressively in a pick-up game in heaven. He wouldn’t play it any other way.

Thank you for all you’ve contributed to this world, Mamba. Rest in Paradise.