As with many people, Kobe's sudden passing deeply saddened me. For some people who are not invested in basketball or the NBA, the sadness might be difficult to understand. But know that for many of us, Kobe transcends basketball. He was an inspiration and became part of people's being in one way or another, as I will try to elaborate.
Memories and friendships attached to him
Growing up, I have realized that memories have been directly attached to him. In 1996, while in high school, I got a copy of NBA Live '97 for my Playstation. I played the game with someone who was a big fan of the Lakers. I remember vividly that he wanted to play using this new kid who just came out of high school. That was the first time I heard about Kobe. The person has become a lifelong dear friend of mine who I keep close to my heart. And when Kobe passed, I got flashes of memories that reminded me of friendship and how privileged I am to experience it.
Another memory attached to Kobe was related to my parents. After high school, I left for university in another city. My parents would visit once in a while, and one time they took me out for shoe-shopping. There was one shoe that I really liked (at that time) and got, which turned out to be the Adidas KB8 3. I wore those shoes until they fell apart a couple of years later.
Again during university, I spent a lot of time on the basketball court. A lot of the stuff taught in classes was backbreaking for me, and I found solace in basketball. That time, there were probably a lot of my facial characteristics that were similar to Kobe, which led to people who regularly came to the basketball court called me Kobe when they didn't know my name (perhaps also as a mockery due to me being terrible in basketball).
Other memories are most likely the historic games Kobe played in. The championship games, the 81 point game, and others. But again it's not just about the games, but about who we watched them with, perhaps for a lot of us with people who we care for dearly.
Kobe's basketball moves
Obviously Kobe is a great basketball player. He is no doubt a legend. And I believe that with his passing, he will be in contention as the greatest Laker ever.
And for avid ballers, Kobe's moves have been studied and emulated. I am by no means a great baller, but I used to regularly watch Kobe's Nike-mamba videos that breakdown the moves that he has. I am sure millions have done the same.
Kobe also had a particular exercise that people adopt. When I started hitting the gym, I looked at Kobe's 666 fitness program, which contains 6 exercises, done 6 times week, and each session was 6 hours. Granted, I was only able to do 6 exercises without the other 6s. And again, I am sure that millions have adopted Kobe's gym work for themselves.
So in a sense, to a certain extent, Kobe has become part of our being. Be it having his moves or his routines.
Kobe's taste for fashion
I love Kobe's shoes. I had his KB8 3, Nike Kobe protro 1, and a couple of mamba shoes. I can attest that this is also the case for many people. Even for those who aren't Kobe fans. Kobe's lines (except for one or two misses), have been of high quality in terms of design and fashion. They just look and feel good. Wearing his shoes imprinted a sort of connection to him, which again, made a part of Kobe's being imprinted on us.
Kobe's demand for excellence
Kobe demanded excellence from himself and from others around him. Even from a young age it was already obvious. It showed in his long lasting feud with Shaq, him being over demanding on Larry Nance Jr., and other high profile examples.
As Kobe would put it, it was nothing personal. And it showed. Shaq loves him to bits and was devastated by his death, Nance was visibly saddened when he played the other day. So Kobe might have came off as arrogant, but it was clear that it was only from his love of winning and excellence. He even played with gruesome injuries. And everyone respected that. Friends and foes.
This also observed in Kobe's life post basketball. The books he wrote, the basketball academy, and other projects that he worked on oozed class and excellence.
Although it might have rubbed off many in a wrong way, this attitude has been an inspiration and adopted by many people. Again, for those people, a part of Kobe became part of them.
Kobe as a dad
From afar, Kobe seems to have taken his love for excellence to his relationship with his girls. Others close to him also testify to this. He loved and was loved dearly by his daughters. And as a dad of 2 beautiful children, looking at photos and stories about Kobe and his daughters are uplifting and inspiring. Making him an exemplar on how to be a dad.
The fact that he died while accompanying his daughter has inspired me even more. I feel more blessed than ever having my kids in my life since Kobe passed. Life is short and we need to remind ourselves on how blessed we are to experience every second of it, especially with the people we love.
A part of Kobe's being has become part of many of us
Granted, like any other normal human being, Kobe had deficiencies. But the many positive qualities he did possess, thanks to him, have become qualities in other people as well. His work ethic, his love for his family, his dedication toward excellence, his vision, etc. have inspired many. So once again, in a sense, a part of Kobe's being has become a part of many of us. He meant a lot to a lot of us, consciously and subconsciously. And THAT is most likely why many are deeply saddened by his demise. This is from me who has never met the dude in person. I can't imagine how Shaq, DWade, LeBron, TMac, and others close to him feel. I'm pretty sure Kobe partly influenced how they have became.
We will miss you black mamba…
From a fan in Indonesia