Like most people reading this right now, I never met Kobe Bryant, but feel as though I have given his legendary status. I was leaving church this past Sunday when a buddy sent me a text: “Did you hear about Kobe?”
“He just died in a helicopter crash.”
Like most people reading this right now, my initial response– somber silence.
Then my thoughts raced…
I know a couple of guys that live near the Bryant’s. One of them told me he would sometimes take a helicopter to games up in LA to beat the traffic.
I’ve been hearing more and more about helicopter crashes these days, so this is not a complete shock… but wow… it’s still a jolting, tragic reality check.
I need to be praying for his wife and daughters. This is going to be a very tough time for them.
Then the news further unfolded: Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter, Gigi was on the helicopter. She, along with Kobe and seven others lost their lives. Pain for those families flooded my heart in an instant.
Nine souls, loved by family and friends. Gone, in an instant.
I was recently asked to speak at an FCA event at the University of Louisville. The topic was: Why do bad things happen to good people? I thought about that talk today and the question that was put before me.
Kobe is a celebrity who made and owned his mistakes publically, one being the alleged incident in Colorado back in 2003. I believe in forgiveness and the ability of people to choose to turn their lives around, and go in a different direction. Kobe chose to do just that. And he put a stamp on it when he changed his number from 8 to 24. When referencing the shift, he said “Physical attributes aren’t there the way they used to be, but the maturity level is greater. Marriage, kids. Start having a broader perspective being one of the older guys on the team now, as opposed to being the youngest. Things evolve.”
Listen, friends. We don’t need to have a debate over whether the young lives that were lost in that helicopter were good or bad people. What happened on Sunday is tragic no matter what way you slice it.
Throughout my talk at the FCA event at the University of Louisville, I shared my belief that God did not create evil, yet there are times he does allow it. He gave every man the freedom to choose what they want at will– This is what causes the evil we see in this world. God allows us to go through trials, working all things together for good so that those of us who choose to maintain a relationship with him can fully develop as people, and as Christians.
I liken this process to a parent allowing their kids go off to school on their own for the first time, ride a bike, or play a contact sport. The granting of this free will to do these things can sometimes bring about hard times in the child and the parent’s life. Regardless, parents allow their children to experience these things because they know it’s necessary to “let go” so the child can develop.
When these instances of tragedy occur, the correct posture of our hearts is not “Why God?”, it’s “God, what do you want me to learn from this?”.
Since that helicopter crash on Sunday, January 26th, I have learned so much about Kobe that has inspired me. There have been countless stories shared of his random acts of kindness. His lessons on work ethic and mentality are incredible. I’ve learned a lot about him as a dad, and it’s inspired me in my own life as a father. We will never fully know why this accident happened, but maybe the lessons I (along with countless others, I imagine), am learning, in addition to the countless people Kobe’s life will impact in the future, is a part of God working this tragedy together for a greater good.
In memory of Kobe Bryant, I’d like to share a few of my favorite quotes and lessons I am learning from his life:
People often talk about how you need to work hard to reach your potential. Kobe says you need to “outwork your potential”. Take your potential a step further in whatever you are pursuing in life.
Kobe woke up at 3 am so that he could start training at 4 am. This allowed him to train one or two times a day more than his competitors. Over the course of years, there was no way for them to make up that ground. Sleep is vital, but periods of discomfort in order to pursue a passion of yours is empowering and can set you apart from your peers and competitors. The alarm clock during my next grind period in this coming broadcast season will be set earlier. Thanks, Kobe.
I love this quote by Kobe… “I can’t relate to lazy people. We don’t speak the same language. I don’t understand you. I don’t want to understand you.” I couldn’t agree more, brother.
At this stage of my life, I’m trying to inspire others, one at a time, to be the best they can be. Whether in their faith, finance, health and fitness, relationships, whatever. Kobe was on the same page when he said, “The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great at whatever they want to do.”
I’ll close with this one:
Kobe embraced being a “girl dad”. He poured so much into his daughters, and I respect that tremendously. He had been taking trips with Gigi recently so that she could learn from the best girls high school basketball players around the country. He didn’t want her idolizing him or his NBA colleagues. He understood she needed to see what was making other female athletes great and he invested a ton of time to show that to her.
Kobe walked away from the game of basketball with a clear mind because he did everything he could to be the best basketball player he could be. He left this earth pouring everything he had into his daughter, trying to be the best “girl dad” he could be.
Thank you Kobe, for inspiring me to be a great dad and to continue my passionate pursuit to impact others in a significant way with my life.
Rest in peace.