On Sunday January 26, 2020, I was mulling around the house watching mindless television and casually scrolling through social media. Soon after wishing one of my closest friends a happy birthday, I received a message on my phone that made me do a double take and subsequently make me question the validity of the text with, “YOU MF LYING!?!?!?” To which the response was…”Nope…”
Knowing the swift nature at which fake new could spread, I wrestled internally about whether I should log back into social media to see what every one else was saying. I ultimately decided to do a Google search, targeting primarily news outlets to see whether the claim made was true or not. Regardless, I began seeing breaking news notifications on the news outlets, then I flipped to a news channel (which I NEVER do- I don’t watch the news, which is another story for another day), yet I needed to know if this crazy rumor was indeed valid. The look on the newscasters faces as they tried to maintain composure while being careful of what was said told me all I needed to know- whether it was true or not, something horrific had happened and people were on board the helicopter that had crashed.
My heart, literally, sunk. Though I have never been a die-hard fan of basketball, most people at minimum are vaguely aware of Kobe Bryant and his road to stardom. It is undeniable that he had an extraordinary work ethic, he rose from the ashes when his repute had arguably hit rock bottom, he made strides that most can only dream of making in their career of choice, he was enjoying his evolution as a man, a father, and husband…and the world had a front row seat to it. Despite my disinterest in the sport, why was I, after the news was finally plastered over all of the new outlets and social media, sitting there, on my living room floor, watching the news unfold, with tears streaming down my face?!?! I am not a crier, in any sense of the word, and it takes a lot for that to happen, so my response even took me by surprise. Then…I began to really think and more importantly, reflect…
Why was this man’s death affecting me this way. I have now come to terms with the “why.” The most obviously reason was that I am human. The second was- I saw a lot of who I am and aspire to be, in Kobe. He had drive, he had a dogged determination, he was arguably in the prime of fatherhood, husbandhood, and his adulthood, he had a vision for himself and for his family, and he was working assiduously towards its execution and implementation. One can argue that his life was just beginning and now it had prematurely come to an end.
What resonates most with me about Kobe is his legacy. His name will forever be embedded into the history of basketball. His drive, tenacity, grit, and standard of excellence lives on.
The Kobe work ethic is the most notable for me. He embodies my approach both present and aspirational, to anything that I do- if I do something, I want to be sure to do it well. I value my repute and don’t take the concept of building a legacy lightly. That is why his death stung and, quite frankly, still stings. To have his life cut short in what feels like an avoidable situation makes the gash created even more deep. The multi-layered and complex questions of why still dig at me and probably will indefinitely but as experience has it- that is one of the many ebbs and flows of life. Despite the glaring hole and missing piece, we still have to push and press on. We still have to work towards being the change that we wish to see, we still have to adopt that Mamba mentality.
I have been fortunate enough *knock on wood* to not have lost anyone that is close to me, though I did come close to it once…another story for another day. Nonetheless, what feels like the equivalent of what I can only imagine being tased would feel like, Kobe’s death left the entire world stunned. His journey and story is one that has shown me the importance of working assiduously towards your dreams, of getting back up when you have been knocked out, of granting yourself grace, of extending grace to others, of opening doors for others who they would otherwise be closed for, the importance and value of your time…the list could literally go on.
So what does this have to do with education, youth development, and/or Barbados? Legacy. Repute. Change makers. How many of us can say that as a result of us being in this world we have left it better than we have found it? How many of us can say that we have changed the trajectory of our family and created a legacy that will positively affect our generations to come? The life and legacy of Kobe, and his mark on the world is something that we can take a leaf out of his book about. He has taught us the importance of drive, of a standard of excellence, of creating the change that we wish to see, of what success in our sector looks like, and what it looks like to change the course of a generation, creating a legacy while doing it.
This was not meant to inspire, call out, or even convict. Instead, its purpose is to have us all really think, reflect, and be mindful and purposeful around what we bring to the world and can contribute to it…and to have some fun in between while doing it. To close us out, I don’t have any quotes, inspirational sayings, or not even to implore. My only ask of you is to ponder the following questions- What will your legacy be?