“We can always kind of be average and just do what’s normal. I’m not in this to do what’s normal.”
– Kobe Bryant
No matter the decade, it seems that there are certain happenstances that make the world stop — or maybe just stand still for a minute and ponder. For some, it may have been the loss of Marvin Gaye. For some, it may have been the shocking news of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston or Prince. For others, it might have been Nipsey Hussle. Whoever it may be, it strikes you with such a force that you stand in disbelief. You want to ask why, but we know that we have nothing to do with death. That is all God’s plan.
The tragic news of Kobe Bryant’s passing has us reflecting on his life. You simply cannot encompass the whole of who he was unless you talk about how he changed the game. One of the few players that went straight to the NBA out of high school, Kobe charted a path that immediately had us as cheerleaders to his full court press. He had already beaten the odds and we applauded his continued success.
And what is success if you don’t have anyone to share it with? Kobe found his queen in Vanessa. They were young, giddy and living the dream. Who doesn’t love young love? Making the decision to marry and immerse themselves into the life and business of basketball, it was #relationshipgoals, #marriagegoals, #couplesgoals and #businessgoals all in one. As with any marriage, it wasn’t perfect. Life in the public eye was challenging. They had their share of ups and downs and divorce scares, but they worked it out and survived every hurdle.
Kobe was like a little brother to those of us that are slightly older. He was the sibling that you saw grow up, evolve into a man, a husband, a father, a phenomenal basketball player, influencer and an inspiration for youth. His smile radiated joy. The way he loved his children was admirable. As a famous, working and heavily scheduled dad, he still made time for what was important: family. In a time where NBA players were getting bad reps for being deadbeat dads, Kobe was setting a different example, as he was visually hands-on and present.
There’s only a set amount of years that one will play in the NBA, and Kobe made his time count. From the LA Forum to the Staples Center, the Los Angeles Lakers will probably never see another player of this magnitude. The stats, the championships, the showmanship, the best-selling jersey — it was all Kobe. LA lived for Kobe, and he brought it all to the table and left it all on the floor. LA grieves. The country grieves. The world grieves.
No one holds a patent on grieving. The process is different for us all. From the fan to the fanatic, to the friend to the actual family, this ‘ish hits different for everyone. For Vanessa, who had been with Kobe since she was 17, after 18 years of marriage, there’s no blueprint. As a married couple, the worst you could ever imagine is losing your mate. As a parent, the worst you could ever imagine is losing your child. Now imagine both. We empathize and have experienced the loss of a child. We know and understand that level of pain, but can never say that we feel the same as she has to go through her own process of finding her new normal.
For many of us, life will go on. We will remember the day and where we were when we heard the news. But for Kobe’s wife and surviving children, the process of losing a husband, a father, a sister and a daughter is just beginning. Kobe built a house to celebrate as a champion of basketball, but he also built a house for a wife and a family that was home and built on love. No matter how you remember him, it will be his energy that never dies. Energy transforms and transcends. His energy is legendary. And legends are forever.
Rufus and Jenny Triplett are an award-winning husband and wife team that co-owns Dawah International LLC, a multimedia company. They are bestselling authors, media personalities, business mentors, diversity disruptors, international speakers, social media influencers and co-hosts of 'Surviving Marriage Podcast'.