Not to be dramatic, but if you were to tell me that the earth stopped spinning when Kobe and Gianna Bryant tragically died in a plane crash, I would have believed you. I was coaching at a volleyball tournament when a fellow coach approached me and said, “Kobe Bryant is dead.” All I could say was, “You’re lying!”
I refused to believe it. Then, this fellow coach went on to say that all of Kobe’s daughters were on the plane with him. Now, we all know by now that only Kobe’s daughter Gianna was on the plane with him when it crashed, but apparently, TMZ broke the news without knowing all of the facts. Seriously, I wish we could boycott them or something.
After letting it sink in that we lost one of the greatest, I was completely broken up. Not only did we lose one of the greatest basketball players ever, but also one of the greatest motivators and leaders too. And most importantly, we lost THE greatest girl dad.
Celebrity deaths are never easy. When Nip died, I was extremely sad, and when Mac Miller died, it truly felt like I lost one of my day one homies.
But, Kobe? Man… It felt like I lost a part of me.
From the time I was a little girl, Kobe was someone I admired. I mean, hell, Shaq was and still is my favorite player of all time. But how could I not love Kobe just as much?
I don’t know if it was the extreme confidence he had on the court or the way he seemed to make everyone around him better, but I can remember sitting in front of the TV watching him battle the Celtics in the NBA Finals just in awe. I was truly amazed at what that man could do on the court.
Then, to see the way he transitioned into coaching his daughter and supporting women’s basketball wholeheartedly was truly beautiful.
I could go on for much longer than anyone probably cares to read, but my point is that even I was this heartbroken about the death of a man and little girl that I never had the pleasure of meeting. I can only imagine the complete emptiness that his family, former teammates, and friends feel every single day.
The bond between Kobe and a special young lady especially comes to mind. Sabrina Ionescu, who should need no introduction, is the NCAA all-time leader in triple-doubles, Pac-12 conference all-time leader in assists, and the only NCAA Division I basketball player to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 assists, and 1,000 rebounds in a collegiate career. She also happened to be very close friends with Kobe Bryant.
Ionescu spoke of their friendship at Kobe and Gianna’s celebration of life held on February 24th, 2020.
I can’t speak too heavily on their friendship, being on the outside looking in. However, I know that Sabrina has said that she idolized Kobe like many of us did. The difference for her, however, is that she had the game to back it up. It was so apparent that even Kobe himself was put on notice. From then on, Kobe and Sabrina began building the bond and friendship that I’m sure Sabrina will cherish forever.