Kobe Bryant: Bigger Than A City or a Team

Kobe Bryant

I couldn’t decide if I wanted to write about Kobe. I had such a strong reaction to the news of his sudden passing but also felt like I couldn’t write about one person when eight others died in that same fateful manner. To write about Kobe is not to dismiss the lives of the others, young kids living their basketball dreams with their parents and coaches that wanted nothing but the world for them should be a story. When I was scrolling through Twitter on a relaxing Sunday afternoon, I stumbled across a few “this can’t be real” tweets and the name Kobe Bryant. There are very few, and I mean very few reasons I would wake my husband up from a Sunday afternoon nap on the couch, but before I could even scroll further, I shook him awake. We sat for hours monitoring the news, in complete shock and devastation.  

As a basketball fan and a Philadelphian, Kobe Bryant was the legend. I heard a teary Spencer Dinwiddie’s interview in the locker room, and he called Kobe “the guy”. Kobe really was “the guy” and I used to think, I wish Kobe was our guy, you know a real Philly dude. Throughout his career, he became a dedicated west coaster, the representation of the city of LA via the Lakers. It’s not that he rejected his Philly roots, but he also didn’t go out of his way to embrace them. After his basketball playing days were through, the Philly roots crept back in here and there, culminating in a speech he gave the Philadelphia Eagles during a critical West Coast trip before winning Super Bowl 52. That speech was everything to the team:

And the entire city remembers the Mamba’s reaction to the Eagles finally getting over the hump, he was right there with us feeling the insane sense of relief and joy wrapped into one unbelievable moment:

What I realize now that I’m older and wiser is that Kobe never left or forgot his Philly roots, they were always there, but it was selfish to think we could just hold on to Kobe when the entire world needed him. In the hours after the news of his death, the internet and news channels were full of reactions from people literally across the globe. Athletes, movie stars, Lower Merion residents, the entire city of LA, the performers on the Grammy’s, lovers of the game of basketball, and even people who never cared for sports but knew what Kobe Bryant was all about, shared their memories, their condolences, and mostly their absolute sadness over the loss of Kobe Bryant at the young age of 41.

Kobe was so much bigger than one city, he was other worldly.

He touched aspiring athletes he never even met, and if you did get the chance to meet him, well forget about it.

Whether you love him from Philly, LA, or somewhere else in the world, I have no doubt you felt the void in the world when we lost Kobe Bryant on Sunday. The 2020 Grammy Awards were planned for Sunday night at the Staples Center or as Alicia Keys so eloquently said, in “the house that Kobe built.” Artists from every generation, nationality, and genre of music found a way to honor Kobe Bryant. Kobe Bryant’s mentality, the Mamba Mentality, is truly a way of life, so much bigger than one person, team, or city.

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1 Comment

  • Elizabeth Umstead 3 years ago

    I was so shocked to learn of Kobe’s passing! I am still heartbroken for his family, losing a father/husband and a sister/child would be devastating and unbearable. I am so proud to call him a fellow Philadelphian and I’m so sad that the world won’t be able to experience all the greatness that Kobe still had to offer, as well as Gigi’s basketball talent. Thank you for your beautiful tribute to him!

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