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January 29, 2020

Kobe Bryant: More Than a Basketball Legend

As thousands of people mourn over the loss of basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna (aka GiGi), in a fatal helicopter crash, our hearts ache for the families of everyone aboard: John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli; pilot Ara Zobayan; girls basketball coach Christina Mauser; and Sarah and Payton Chester. They were all flying to Thousand Oaks, California for a basketball game, where Gianna was expected to play and Bryant was expected to coach.

If your teen was a Kobe Bryant fan, they’re likely in a bit of shock. Those of us not too invested in the world of basketball may view this as a sad event, but not feel a personal connection to him, which makes it difficult to empathize with. But for our teens who did really look up to Kobe Bryant, they’ve not only lost a basketball player, they’ve lost a role model, an inspiration, and a man who invoked passion for sports and arts in the hearts of his fans. Here are just a few of the responses from fans reeling over the death of their hero.

Jay Williams, ESPN host and friend of Kobe, shared an important message about embracing the time we have with our loved ones.

It’s important to remember that Kobe was more than a public figure and star athlete. He was also a father, a husband, and a friend. He and his wife, Vanessa Laine Bryant, have four daughters together, each of whom must now learn how to live a life without their father and sister, GiGi. There are real lives and hearts behind the faces we so easily place on pedestals, or don’t view as having emotions, or shrug off entirely if we’re simply uninterested in the person that day. This is a reminder that celebrities are people just as we are, who form genuine relationships and experience heartaches and triumphs and the ups and downs of life.

While we may not know just why or how this travesty occurred, one thing remains certain: those nine lives were cultivated, loved, cherished, and numbered by the Lord. It’s hard to imagine or justify how a loving Father could allow this, but such questions simply cannot be answered by finite humans. Tragedies such as this are bound to bring up difficult questions for our teens, and we tend to feel an immense pressure to say the right thing. But Romans 12:15 simply reminds us to “mourn with those who mourn.” Sometimes the best response is to not answer those questions, and instead allow space for mourning. Our loved ones often don’t need any words at all, they just need someone to sit with them in their pain and share that burden for a moment.

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