Kobe’s death is sad for many reasons

Nick Ulrich, Opinion Editor

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When TMZ first reported that Kobe Bryant had died in a helicopter accident, I couldn’t believe it, partially because it was TMZ but also because I couldn’t believe something so tragic could have happened. Unlike many other athletes and celebrities, I didn’t cry at the news of his death, but when I heard that his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, was in the helicopter with him, I could no longer hold back tears.

Gianna was the daughter Kobe was usually seen with. The two of them shared a bond over their love of basketball and it was easy to see Gianna taking on many of the traits her father displayed in his years playing. Even as a 13-year-old, it was clear that she, too, possessed the “mamba mentality” and it was only a matter of years until her time in the WNBA. The potential that was taken from her and the other three young basketball players on board has robbed us all of WNBA greatness.

I can’t imagine how Bryant’s family must have felt, opening their phones to see a flashy news story from TMZ informing them of their deaths. It was incredibly irresponsible on TMZ’s part, not only to report before the sheriff’s department could inform the families, but to do so before there was even enough evidence to support that the helicopter that went down was Bryant’s. Obviously, the first source to break a major story like this will receive the most website views, something I’m sure TMZ has decided outweighs the negatives of waiting.

It’s hard for me to write something like this because of who Kobe Bryant is and what he has done. As many know, in 2003, when Bryant was 24-years-old, he admitted to having forceful nonconsensual sex with a 19-year-old woman in the city of Edwards, Colorado. Bryant’s case was dropped from criminal court, but a civil lawsuit later forced him to apologize publicly. The details of the story are graphic and upsetting, so I will just say that what Bryant did in that hotel room on that day could never be forgiven.

But I think Kobe was trying. Trying to achieve some form of forgiveness for what he had done. Trying to atone for how he hurt, not only that woman, but all women. In the years since his retirement from the NBA, he had been an amazing husband to Vanessa Bryant, and an amazing father to his four daughters. Any time he was at a basketball game, Gianna was with him, and the two would discuss basketball in detail and smile and laugh with each other.

In 2018, He founded the Mamba Sports Academy, which gave boys and girls an opportunity to train with Bryant and the trainers he had chosen. Many of the best scorers in the WNBA trained privately with Bryant. Just a few days before his death, Bryant stated that he believed many women in the WNBA could play in the NBA today, a statement many male athletes would never go near. Furthermore, Bryant was attending WNBA games regularly and commenting his appreciation for the game, at the dismay of many of his male fans. Some have said that the growth of the WNBA is in part due to Bryant’s love of the sport.

I could sit here and talk about Kobe’s NBA career. I could talk about his five championships, his incredible scoring statistics or his overwhelming will to be the absolute best player in the world. I could talk about how one of the best basketball players to ever live has died.

But that’s not why I’m sad. I’m sad because Kobe Bryant was just beginning another life, a life likely to be filled with philanthropy and random acts of kindness. A life that would have paved the way for women in the WNBA to make as much money as their male counterparts and for women basketball players in the U.S. to consider sports as a viable career choice.

Kobe Bryant did something completely unforgivable, and mostly, I’m sad because we have to die thinking about that instead of how he might have tried to redeem himself for it.

Julia B