The “Why” That Helps Me
I left the house Monday morning to take my German Shepherd Kobe Bean Bryant for a walk. Not even 24 hours had passed since I had heard the devastating news about his namesake, my hero, dying in a helicopter crash in Calabasas.
The sky was blue and the sun peaked intermittently between the scattered clouds. I looked to the heavens with a heavy heart, a feeling of helplessness with tears filling my eyes. “Why G-d did you take him? Were his guardian angels sleeping? Were you taking a commercial time out? Are you there? Are you there? Are you there?”
G-d, Kobe was a man who had taught us SO much. He showed us what greatness means. He exemplified the words dedication, heart, commitment and focus. He was not perfect, but he rejoiced in being his best self on and off the court. He thwarted mediocrity and he celebrated the superlative. He was confident, strategic and humorous. He cherished his role with his family, in the community and among his peers.
Kobe Bean Bryant never settled; not even when he, himself, created the benchmark. He had the beastly fortitude to go back on the court to take free throws after he tore his Achilles; he gave 100 percent focus to his team even when he was publicly embroiled in a personal crisis; and he scored 60 points on the court for his final game before we all shed tears on his only verbal proclamation of “Mamba out.”
And just when we thought he had touched everyone with something good—inspiring multiple generations to be their best with the “Mamba Mentality” (the book is on my shelf!), we saw him begin his second act. G-d, surely you saw he had so much more to give. An academy award for his short story that told kids they could live their dreams; the amazing stories still inside of him waiting to come out; the community good poised to elevate to new heights; the wisdom he would teach his four girls and give to women’s basketball. Whatever could you have been thinking? Aren’t we allowed to have heroes here on this earth anymore? Goodness knows we need them, especially now.
“Those times when you get up early and you work hard
Those times when you stay up late and you work hard.
Those times when you don’t feel like working—you’re too tired; you don’t want to push yourself…but you do it anyway.
That is actually the dream; that’s the dream. it’s not the destination; it’s the journey.”
—Kobe Bean Bryant
When I arrived at the park, the place was eerily empty and quiet. There were always people there with their dogs. But not today. Nobody. It was just me and my Kobe. Perhaps, I thought, G-d was giving me a gift of silence and peace as my sadness overtook me. I climbed to the top of the hill, dropped Kobe’s leash and looked up to the heavens. First, I gave gratitude for my boys and my life as I always do. And in the next nano-second I asked again, ”Why G-d? Why?”
I picked up the leash and began walking across the grass when suddenly at my feet I saw something glistening. It was change; two pennies, one nickel and one dime. I bent down to pick them up. Was this some sort of sign; some kind of cryptic answer?
And then it hit me. When a man like Kobe, whose greatness overshadows our troubles, leaves this life, he leaves us all responsible to somehow carry on his legacy. Some of us can only pay forward a small—perhaps a penny’s worth of—inspiration to someone in our lives the way he inspired us. Others can give a proverbial dime—maybe in the form of helping our communities in larger ways or devoting our love to mentor our children and others. And still others of us will fall in between, by honoring Kobe with a “nickel’s worth” of heart devoted to do our best in our careers in the midst of our family lives—for our associates and for our clients. Never settling for mediocrity and always taking accountability for the results.
Somehow, that message has given me comfort over these past days as I believe I—and all of us who loved Kobe—have a job to do. As time all over the world seems to stand still with his sudden absence, we can do something. We can honor him by paying forward pennies, nickels or dimes worth of effort to inspire others; of trying to be our best selves even when we are feeling low; of giving back to our communities; of always having confidence and gratitude and the belief that we can fulfill our dreams. We owe him that. We must do that. No matter how small the deed, it’s about honoring Kobe with the deed itself. And if all of us do it, we are inspired to multiply Kobe’s greatness perhaps more than we could have—or would have— if he was alive.
Indeed, maybe G-d was thinking that with our larger-than-life Kobe still here on earth, we would have left a little of that change in our pockets, and left someone with his fortitude, commitment and indelible spirit to pick up our slack. Now with him gone, millions and millions of us must be better so we can honor his legacy instead. We must put aside our differences and agree that this man gave us all a super hero to look up to; the best version of ourselves.
“To sum up what the Mamba Mentality is…it’s to try to constantly be the best version of yourself.”
—Kobe Bean Bryant
All of us at DDCC’s thoughts and prayers go out to the families of Kobe, his daughter Gigi, and all of the other seven victims of this horrific accident.