The world lost an amazing human being on Sunday. Former L.A. Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant died in a tragic helicopter crash along with eight other people including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. The NBA and fans around the globe today are shocked and in disbelief as they mourn his death. Bryant who was 41 years old, retired in 2016 after a 20-year career, all with the Lakers. He is already considered one of the greatest players in basketball history and a five-time World Champion.
Kobe Bryant was much, much more than a basketball superstar. He spoke three languages fluently, English, Spanish and Italian.
He won an Academy Award as the executive producer for his animated short film, "Dear Basketball." He taught himself to play "Moonlight Sonata" on the piano as a tribute to his wife Vanessa. He was a friend and mentor to other players. When you heard the name Kobe, you knew exactly who was being talked about. His death reminds me of the tragic death of baseball superstar Roberto Clemente who died in a plane crash in 1972 on his way to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicarauga.
More importantly than anything else Kobe Bryant was a dedicated father. When he boarded that helicopter with his daughter, he was on his way to her AAU travel basketball game. Gianna and her dad had a special relationship. He embraced her amazing basketball skills and they were seen together, laughing and loving each other as only a father and daughter can do. Gianna was destined to carry on his legacy as a basketball star. She wanted to attend UConn to play for the Huskies and she would have certainly had a great career.
Kobe would encourage anyone to be a superstar in anything they do. Be a superstar teacher, or doctor. Be a superstar store clerk, auto mechanic and especially be a superstar father and husband.
Life is so uncertain. No one is guaranteed tomorrow, and in the blink of an eye life can come to an end. Approach each day as if it could be your last. As the Peanuts meme seen recently on Facebook has Charlie Brown saying, "You only live once." And Snoopy replying, "No you live everyday. You only die once."
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Randy Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org