The outpouring on emotion during and following the memorial service held at the Staples Center on Monday for Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and the seven other people tragically killed in a January helicopter crash was overwhelming.
Friends of the family like Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Diana Taurasi, Sabrina Ionescu, Geno Auriemma, Rob Pelinka, Jimmy Kimmel, Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Usher, and Kobe’s wife Vanessa all gave heartfelt speeches or performances in honor of the fallen icon and his daughter Gigi.
The list of luminaries in the audience is too long to list, but included Phil Jackson, Magic Johnson, Pau Gasol, Jerry West, Adam Silver, Dwyane Wade, Gabrielle Union, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron James, Gregg Popovich, Rick Fox, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Dwight Howard, Draymond Green, Devin Booker, Doc Rivers, Tim Duncan, Rajon Rondo, DeMar DeRozan, Michael Phelps, Alex Rodriguez, Jennifer Lopez, Jay Z, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, Spike Lee, and Lakers owner Jeannie Buss.
One of those who was not in attendance was the future Hall of Fame quarterback and one of the few men who can relate to the highs Kobe Bryant reached in his sport, Tom Brady.
On Tuesday, Brady, who obviously has had the death of Kobe and Gianna on his mind since the crash, penned a very personal and heartfelt essay reflecting on his contemporary’s life both on and off the court.
“I have been deeply affected by the passing of Kobe, Gigi and the others in that tragic flight weeks ago,” Brady wrote. “Since then, I’ve witnessed the well deserved outpouring of love and support for the families that had so much left to give, and it’s helped me reflect and gain perspective. I know that love peace and joy will always endure. And in this tragedy, I have learned so much. Why has this touched me in the way that it did? Why has it kept me up at night, and brought me so many tears?
“In Kobe, we were able to witness the man in the arena. For many of us, sports show what we are made of, they define our personalities and emotions. We cannot hide from the good or the bad, from the wins or the losses… the joy and despair, the happiness and the pain. What you see is what it is, we aren’t actors. We have found a real life stage where we become vulnerable to the world and are judged based on the outcome of each performance. And we care deeply about what we do.
“For some, these days are the pinnacle in their life, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s clear to me, for Kobe, that was how he lived his life in every way. In his second chapter, you saw even more. You saw his excitement for life, and for achieving in areas only he thought possible. He became more of an entrepreneur, media mogul, father, husband and mentor among other roles. And he didn’t stop with himself. Kobe didn’t care whether you were a man or woman, boy or girl, black or white, rich or poor, ordinary or extraordinary, he wanted to help you become the best you could be. His mere presence had an effect on everybody he was around. He had the energy to recognize in others what they could not recognize in themselves.
“I think that’s why I will miss him most. Because we all know the world needs more of that leadership and positivity. We recognize that he was doing the work that others don’t want to or simply can’t do. The world we live in is full of people telling kids and adults ‘you can’t,’ ‘you shouldn’t,’ ‘you won’t,’ or ‘you never will.’ The world we live in is teaching EVERYONE to fear, to worry, to shame or to give up. and that’s the opposite of what Kobe stood for. That’s what made Kobe a real superhero. He spoke about mentality with such conviction, about the idea that if you truly believed in something you could achieve it… you could overcome the obstacles in your path. And not just that, he walked the walk and did the work. He pushed others to find that same confidence. He was the real life superhero our world needs.
“That’s what we will all miss. That’s why we hurt. Because we know that he was always fighting against the norm. He was doing more than his share. Now who is going to do the work that is still here to be done? Who is going to fight and break the norms with love and joy and inspiration? Who is going to discard fear, and doubt, and hate? Who is going to carry the load and be the superhero that he was? The answer is simple to me, ALL OF US. Decide to make the change in yourself. If there is anything I have learned and been inspired by through this tragic event, it is this, SEIZE THE DAY. That’s what Kobe always did, and that’s what he wanted for us too.”
He will be missed.