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Kobe Bean Bryant    

Kobe Bean Bryant

BY MASON SPECTOR

Artwork by Monica Ahanonu

As I sit here trying to write about what has been going on in pop culture it's hard for me to think about anything else besides Kobe. My top movies from last month or predictions for the super bowl don’t seem nearly as important to me anymore. I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life where I have felt this. I have lost people before. People that I had a personal connection to, even people who were my blood. But I have still never felt this. I may have been more sad, or more affected. But this is different. Growing up in LA, Kobe is someone who has been with me forever. I don’t remember my life without him in it. When he got drafted in 1996 I was 2 years  old. There are no words to explain how much he meant to this city. He was our king. He was our leader. He was our example of hard work. And he was putting it on display with our city across his chest almost nightly for twenty years.

All you had to do this last week in LA was go outside. The air, the energy, you could feel it. Walking around and looking at people faces, buses displaying RIP Kobe messages, buildings being lit up purple & gold at night, Kobe was everywhere. It feels like the city is more united than ever, as we grieve this massive loss together. I went down to the LA Live/Staples Center area on Monday afternoon and while it was extremely emotional it felt right to be there. Hundreds of people stood around wearing Kobe jerseys and Lakers gear. Kobe had an impact on everyone. As I walked around the plaza I was surrounded by every kind of person you could imagine. And everyone was feeling the same pain. It seemed like nobody really knew what to do. Including myself. There was nothing to say, there was nothing to do, we all just gathered in silence and reflected on how much this person meant to us. Together. Although there really is no silver lining here, it has been so moving to see how big of an impact Kobe had on the world. You have tennis players wearing Kobe jerseys in the Australian Open, golfers wearing jerseys on the tour, players in the NHL changing their numbers. It goes beyond sports too, people like Bob Iger, John Williams and Barack Obama have all shared their thoughts on Kobe. To hear all the stories, all the times he reached out to people to pick their brain on something or congratulate them on an achievement, have only cemented Kobe’s legacy even further.

What makes this story even more tragic is that it wasn't just Kobe. It was his 13 year old daughter Gianna, Sarah Chester and her 13 year old daughter Payton, John & Keri Altobelli and their 13 year old daughter Alyssa, pilot Ara Zobayan and coach Christina Mauser. This took it from a story of losing an NBA legend and the greatest Laker of all time, to parents losing their kids, children losing their parents, brothers losing their sisters and five families being forever changed. This will be one of those defining moments in history where everyone remembers where they were. The NBA will forever be different. It will be remembered as before this happened and after this happened. Both the league and the Lakers will take a big step in the healing process as the Lakers play their first game in 6 days and first since the passing. No one including myself really knows what to expect or how the team will honor Kobe.

As I think about the future, and the life that we must continue to live despite all of this, I think about how Kobe would have lived it. Don’t settle for anything less than your best. Don’t let anyone box you in or tell you what you can and can’t do. Be true to yourself and who are you. Try new things. Be curious. Always be learning. Don’t be scared to ask questions or ask for help. Be there for the ones you love the most. Help others. Inspire people. Truly make the world a better place. And above all, find your mamba mentality. Thank you for my childhood Kobe, you will be remembered for all of time. 

Mamba out.