Kobe Bryant provided me comfort when I needed it most and is the reason for the greatest moments in my life

By Nicole Ganglani | AP Images | Art by Tricia Guevara

It’s been a day since I woke up to the news that Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash and I’m still incredibly shaken and in utter disbelief as I try to find the words to write this. I still can’t accept the fact that my favorite basketball player of all time and the most important sports figure in my life is gone. I’ve tried a number of times to try to understand this tragedy but every time I do, I only end up crying onto my keyboard. 

Kobe Bryant is my hero. It’s crazy to think that I found out about his passing the morning after I was just defending him in front of my relatives. He’s the reason why I fell in love with basketball and sports in general. Watching him made sports such a big part of my life, which is why I pursued a career in sports journalism. For many, Kobe is best known as a basketball legend, but for die-hard fans like me, Kobe is known as  LA’s son, our soul, inspiration, hero, light, defender, warrior, and the perfect embodiment of what it truly means to be a Los Angeles Laker. 

As I try to make sense of this tragedy, I know for a fact that this isn’t something I ever wanted to write about. Imagine waking up one morning and hearing about your favorite basketball player passing away in a tragic accident—and then having to write about it for work. I’ve been doing my best to cope with the news and somehow get back to my daily grind but I’ve failed to do so. Because just when I think I no longer have any tears left to cry, I see or hear something about him and they start coming down again. The only reason I’m trying to write this piece is because I know if Kobe were in my position, he’d do everything in his power to push beyond his limits and do it. That’s what Kobe Bryant meant to me.

It’s ironic how as I was reading Bill Simmons’s “The Book of Basketball” last week, I couldn’t help but think of Kobe right away after reading this line: “When your favorite team lands a transcendent player in your formative years—Magic on the Lakers, MJ on the Bulls, Elway on the Broncos, Gretzky on the Oilers or whomever—it really is like winning the lottery. Even twenty years later, I can rattle off classic Bird moments like I’m rattling off moments from my own life.”

Likewise, witnessing Kobe’s championship seasons in 2008 to 2010, countless game winners, his recovery from a horrible Achilles injury, and his becoming arguably the best father figure in the world are some of the greatest moments in my life. 

I’ve always been amazed by how much Kobe taught me: the true meaning of hard work, the importance of channeling our inner “mamba mentality” in our craft, the pursuit of greatness no matter the odds, and trying to inspire people with what I do. I don’t think anyone has taught me those things better than Kobe. He’s the reason for my work ethic, love and dedication for basketball, and why I’m on a mission to prove that women are equally as good—or even better than—men in sports.

Kobe is known as  LA’s son, our soul, inspiration, hero, light, defender, warrior, and the perfect embodiment of what it truly means to be a Los Angeles Laker

Years from now, I’m still going to be yelling “Kobe” every time I throw something in the trash can. The posters, pictures, bobbleheads, and every single piece of Kobe merchandise I have will forever be precious to me because they will always remind me of the person that shaped my life. The person that provided me comfort when I needed it most, the reason for the greatest moments in my life, and someone I will forever idolize and call my hero.

Whatever words I’ve tried to jot down in this piece while in tears won’t do justice to how much Kobe meant to me. But it’s the best I could do to honor the greatest basketball player in my eyes at this very moment. I don’t know if I’ll ever heal or even move on from this tragedy but I know for a fact that I now live in a world without my favorite hero. 

Rest in Peace, Kobe. 

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest sports news and active lifestyle and fitness features you need