I will admit it. I’m not a big basketball fan. I mean, I appreciate my home team (Portland Trailblazers), and I enjoy a good game when it happens to be on, but…that’s about it. I’ve never closely followed brackets or players, and I rarely know when players switch from one team to another. Having said THAT, there are some names that transcend the sport of basketball. Kobe Bryant was one of them.
Did I *know* Kobe? Not anymore than the legions of true fans did. What I knew of Kobe Bryant, the basketball legend, was from the news and social media and watercooler chats about last night’s game. And yet – I mourn his loss, and that of his daughter, just the same.
Some people will claim that mourning a celebrity is stupid, wasteful, accomplishes nothing. I dispute that claim. I say that sometimes, those celebrities are such larger-than-life figures, that we feel we *do* know them. We feel that, irregardless of their money and talent, they are like us in more ways than not. And so we mourn not only their passing, but the death that is coming for us all one day. We grieve for a life that had so much *life* left to give – until the time that it didn’t. And in this case, we see a proud father who probably spent his last moments consoling his daughter and praying that even if he didn’t make it, she would. Who among us cannot feel that pain, and know in the depths of our hearts how frightened he was for his child?
We also mourn for the family left behind – the wife and kids who were not on the trip that day, now left without their husband, their father, their sibling. And we know that, someday, that will be *our* family, saying goodbye to us.
Did I know Kobe Bryant? No. Do I mourn his passing, so suddenly and with him so young? Yes. And I don’t think that makes me ridiculous or weak or silly. I think it shows that I have a heart, and I can feel empathy for his family and friends. That I can say goodbye to all that he had to offer. And ultimately, that I understand death comes for us all – and we never know when, or how, or where.