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I got the text around noon, where I live, from my friends telling me about what had happened. Like many others, the disbelief led to quick search on Google for verification. Upon reading what had occurred, I was stunned and saddened. I couldn’t imagine those final moments. Yesterday I thought to write about this, but my fingers simply couldn’t write. I saw several Youtube videos pop up of people reacting to it. While I understand the necessity of people breaking news, another part of me didn’t agree with the reaction videos. The idea that as soon as someone passes on, the first thing we do is turn on the camera to record ourselves; rather than processing it ourselves first.

However, we all have our ways of processing whether it’s online or, in my case, through group text with friends. But there is one common thing between the two: community. Coming together with others to share in grief over the loss of someone meaningful to them. Was Kobe someone I wanted to meet in real life? Sure, but he wasn’t the top athlete or role model on my list of people who inspired me. The truth was that I was always annoyed by him when he played.

A thorn in our side, like we were a thorn in his.

As a Spurs fan, the history between Kobe and my team goes way back to the early 2000’s. There were intense games in the regular season, and even more heat in the playoffs. Heartbreaks and celebration ensued, but by the end he would go on to win the overall head-to-head 4-3. But if there was one thing he would acknowledge, it was that he would’ve been more successful had it not been for the Spurs. Success. That was what he strived to be the epitome of. He wanted to be better than Michael, and was doing whatever it took to get there; and I mean whatever it took.

Countless hours practicing, no time for friends, and whatever else was needed he did to become one of the best players in the game. That was one aspect of him that I took away with me. I didn’t know him as well as, say, Lakers fans or Kobe fans. I only watched him at a distance whenever him and my team went to battle. I’ll admit, I was one of the many people who would say “Kobe!” when tossing something into a trash can. That drive Kobe had to keep going, no matter what, is what I really admired. I may have hated when he played against us, but I respected him a lot. When he announced he was retiring at the end of 2015-16 season, he went out with a breathtaking performance. That final game of the season, it was a debate: see the Warriors break MJ’s Bulls record for most wins in a season or watch Kobe’s final game. My best friend and I chose the latter.

It wasn’t until I grew older, past my teenage years, that my own inner drive and determination kicked in. One example was around the time of my weight loss. My friends and I love playing basketball, but I was always the worst of my group. Yet after every game, when my friends sat on the floor to cool down and relax, there I was still jogging around shooting jumpers. When life kicks me down to the dirt, I stubbornly keep pushing myself up despite others saying “Move on.” and things of that ilk. But like many of us, I still struggle sometimes with doing what is necessary to get what we ultimately want. Just like it must’ve been tough for Kobe to set aside other things, like having many friends. I’ve had that same thought before, but I also enjoy the company it provides. But whatever it may be, sometimes the things we sacrifice can open doors to other things as well.

For him, it might’ve been business opportunities and philanthropy. A chance to give back to others through various means. The other things I admired and absorbed from Kobe was that he was a man of culture and community. Having grown up in Italy at an early age, he spoke Italian and Spanish which helped, at times, when he was on the court. He enjoyed travel, and experiencing different things. While at the same time, giving back to the community through events and things. He may have worn the jersey colors I hated, but he lived the life I aspire for. Simply put, he did what he loved knowing what it would cost.

It’s the day after the tragic news that he, along with his daughter and 7 others, passed away in that helicopter crash. The shock and the “how” still linger for many of us, because they all left us too soon. For many, he had a huge impact on them and I bring back up the word community. Because we must remember that life is short, and we never know what tomorrow brings. So enjoy life today, with people you love, while meeting others out there who can join you. It shouldn’t have to take a tragedy or death to bring us together, but rather hard work and persistence. Some of the many things Kobe Bryant taught us; including me. Wherever we go, let’s strive to make the most, and be successful, in whatever endeavors we pursue. It will take some sacrifice, and we will be hit by resistance, however don’t give up. Find your inspiration, stay focused, and you’ll get there. We come together and remember those who passed away yesterday; including a basketball legend. . .

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