Kobe Bryant 1978-2020

Sports fans mourn the loss of legend Kobe Bryant and daughter

I picked up my phone on Sunday afternoon to see a text from my older brother. “Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash today,” his text read, but it took me a few seconds to process it. I typed “Kobe Bryant” into the Google search bar on my phone and saw dozens of articles confirming the story after TMZ’s initial report. 

Bryant, a former Los Angeles Lakers basketball star, was reportedly traveling to a basketball game with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, when their helicopter crashed in Calabasas, California on Sunday, Jan. 26, according to ESPN. The helicopter included another player and parent, and the crash left no survivors. Reports confirm that Bryant’s wife and three other daughters were not involved and are safe. Gianna and Bryant had recently been spotted courtside at several NBA games. She was a growing basketball player herself. 

Within hours, fans around the world heard the news but were left in similar mindsets of shock and sorrow. My phone continued to buzz: a text from my best friend, an ESPN article, a message from my coworker, a friend’s post on Instagram. The sports world, if not the world in general, was truly taking a hit. 

Athletes and celebrities joined fans and took to social media to honor Byrant and his daughter. During their Sunday afternoon game, the Toronto Raptors and the San Antonio Spurs each let the 24-second shot clock run out during the first possessions of the game in honor of Byrant and his legendary jersey number, 24, for the Lakers. The crowd chanted “Kobe! Kobe! Kobe!” and gave a standing ovation. 

To lose Bryant is to lose a part of a game that so many of us adore. It feels like what we know basketball to be has just been stripped from us. And for the athletes in the world, there’s nothing scarier. 

The world shakes with sudden tragedies like this one. We’ve heard similar stories before with the Marshall football team, Stuart Scott, Robert Clemente and Chris Sager that never get any easier to hear. The effects of these losses speak levels to the impact that sports has on us. But, why? 

We follow our favorite teams and players that fuel us with pride, whether based off our home city, our shared values, our views of the game or our family around us. We march with them to the field and court. We cry for the bitter upsets and losses. We yell and cheer for the overdue victories and the streaks we hope will never end. We argue with the announcers that we know can’t hear us. We yell at the referees for phantom calls, and then we cheer them on for the ones we needed. We mute the television when our team loses, and we blow out our speakers when the confetti falls on our court. We have the posters on our walls, the stats sent to our phones and the post-game press conferences pulled up on live stream.

We mourn together over the ones that made the game what it is. We honor Bryant not as some flawless god but as a sports legend. Bryant was a winner. He did the impossible. 

Every now and then, that’s important for us to see. Greatness is achievable and something to strive for. The sports world is coming together to remember a winner. In today’s world, a win is sometimes all you can ask for. 

Our hearts go out to the Bryant family, the NBA community and the city of Los Angeles. This deeply tragic accident is one we hope to never have to read about again. Let it remind us that although these things are accidents, our lives are not. Kobe Bryant was 41, and his daughter was only 13. 

We will live on and play on for the simple fact that we can, if nothing else.

~Anna Thomas, Staff Writer~

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