All over the world on Sunday, people were reeling over the death of retired basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant and seven other victims who have now been identified. They were victims of a helicopter crash that occurred somewhere over Calabasas in L.A.
The news came just the day after it was announced that LeBron James had surpassed Bryant’s basketball record, to which Bryant responded by saying:
“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames much respect my brother #33644”.
Bryant’s death bought the world to their knees because it was so unexpected. One of the hardest parts of it all is thinking about how for Bryant, heading to the Staples Centre was a regular occurrence, and there’s no way he could’ve known it was going to be his last.
I am not a big basketball fan, but I knew about Bryant’s legacy, and there is something so awful about this death, being so sudden, that has a lot of people feeling uneasy and for me, has put things into perspective.
As humans, we naturally take things for granted, or at least the majority of us do. It’s woven into the fabric of our language: we all use phrases like “see you tomorrow”. We all make plans way ahead in the future, like holidays or movies we can’t wait to see, but the truth is, none of us knows if we’re even going to make it there. Anything can happen at any moment, but despite that we know this, for some reason, it doesn’t resonate deep enough for us to make a change.
That is not to say it’s easy to put into practice. We put off for tomorrow what we could do today; we waste time on things and people that don’t make us happy, we hold grudges, go to bed angry, all with the hopes that we’ll be able to rectify it all later: but as this tragic event shows us, that’s not always the case.
Bryant was a man who left a legacy on this planet. Not only as one of the most legendary basketball players, but as a businessman, a writer, an icon and, of course, a father, husband and friend.
“People die every day”, is something we are used to hearing as if each death is not as tragic and devastating as the last. We’ve become desensitised to things like this, and I sometimes think it’s only when someone like Kobe Bryant, Whitney Houston or Michael Jackson dies, that we as a society unify in our grief. As beautiful as that is, it really shouldn’t end there. In death is not the only time we should reflect on what we’re doing right and wrong in our lives.
Bryant’s death has made me want to do better and to try my hardest not to waste time and to live every day to fullest. Not in the cliché “living my best life” kind of way but on a deeper level. We should surround ourselves with good people, take responsibility for our actions, say what we mean and mean what we say because we never know when our time is going to come. I don’t think my soul could ever rest if my last words to anyone did not live up to how I felt about them.
For a lot of us, the legacy we are going to leave behind is a lot more personal. That doesn’t take anything away from us as everyday people, but it means what we leave behind, how people remember us, is in some ways more crucial because we don’t have as many people around us to keep our legacy going.
The death of all nine people was a tragedy, but we shouldn’t wait for the next awful surprise to shock us into being the best we can be for ourselves and the people around us. I truly hope that as time goes on, we learn to truly humble ourselves to the point where we are able to shake the habit that tomorrow is promised, and how we act today, counts for absolutely everything.