In the wake of the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and 7 others in a helicopter crash, prior show guests Vess Pearson and Kory Stevens join us as we discuss Kobe’s vast impact on our lives and on the lives millions of others around the world.
I don’t know why I am writing this. I’m not a writer and quite frankly I’ve never written anything. Kobe, as a Jazz fan, I hated you as a player. I cheered against you from day one just because the jersey you wore. I remember when you airballed 4 shots as a rookie in the WCF and it didn’t even phase you. I remember when you scored 81 and all I thought was, Why did the other team LET you do that. I remember Colorado and everything that was said. I remember when you tore your achilles, stood up, made 2 free throws, then walked off the floor with no help. I remember the last couple of years and how BAD the Lakers were. It made me so happy to finally see the Jazz win. Then something happened- I started to dislike you less and less, then I started to secretly cheer for you. Then I became a fan. Don’t take this wrong, I always respected your game. I knew you to be one of the most competitive and hard working players to ever play the game. I heard all the stories of you teaching the other superstars of the NBA what it meant to work. In the NBA, Olympics, and offseason. Even on that last game of your career as your dropped 60 I found myself cheering for you as you won your last game as a player.
And then, for me, everything changed. I started to study you. I saw you different. I didn’t see the person and villain that I had always cheered against. You did the Detail episode with Donovan Mitchell and I was AMAZED as I listened and watched how you break down the game. I started to listen to the stories of the impact you have had on so many players. Then, I saw you as a Father. After you retired you took a break from the game, but then you started coming back, always with family, almost always with Gianna. I watched you sit courtside with Gianna and explain the game to her. I heard you talk about her and I found myself in you. There is nothing more important to me than my kids and my family.
I will never forget where I was when I got the text that you had passed away. I didn’t want to believe it. I kept waiting for it not to be true. Then, the final news hit that you, Gianna and 7 others lost their lives. That is when it become more than I could have ever imagined. This is different. I can’t stop thinking. I can’t stop reading and watching all that is being said about you. I’m not an emotional person, but I have to fight back the tears as I see pictures and videos of you and Gianna. What weighs so heavy on me goes way beyond basketball and your career. The real pain comes from watching you as a father and knowing that you aren’t going to be able to be there for your family. The tragedy that Gianna will never get to carry on the Mamba mentality that she was so ready and excited to do. I can’t stop imagining myself in that helicopter. I can’t stop thinking, what if that was me?
It has ignited something in me that is making me write this. You just never know what life holds. As cliche as it sounds. Nothing in life is guaranteed. I think about you with Gianna watching over your wife and kids and I know that you will have a chance to be with your family again. I know that this is not the end for you. I know there are a lot of people who can’t and won’t believe you have become the man and father you have become. I know we all make mistakes, and at the end of it all, I know today I am committed to being a better man and father. There is no more waiting, there is just doing. So Kobe, I don’t want to be Kobe, I want to be Andrew. RIP “The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do” – Kobe Bryant
-Andrew Van Buren, Nitty Gritty