RIP Kobe – A Tribute to a Legend

Kobe Bryant jersey

By Rachel Melikian

Dedicated on the first anniversary of the death of Kobe Bryant, are my thoughts from 2020.

“RIP KOBE” flash LA Metro buses’ destination signs, including the buses still parked at the depot, and then one after another, they resume their routes with the same message. This gives a remarkable impression of a form of prayer, not only to Kobe but also to the community bringing them a soothing and peaceful effect. It’s like a nonstop procession for over a month (until the outbreak of COVID-19) that could inspire the crowd to drive safely and calmly from reading the flashing message.

“RIP KOBE” can’t be missed because its bold design is impactful and alternates with the bus destination and its number.

Born in 1978, Kobe Bryant died at the young age of 41, an age some would not have been married or have children yet. Yes, he’d done it all. He was a five-time NBA champion, 18-time NBA All-Star, and one of the best basketball players of all time. But Kobe died too young, too soon, and too suddenly. His memorial outside the Staples Center spoke for itself as fans left 25,000 candles in memoriam.

Could there be a lesson to be learned from Kobe’s death? Would Kobe Bryant be alive if the proper precautions were taken, or could the blame be put on the fog so that nobody was at fault?

Kobe was not the first celebrity to die in a crash due to bad weather. The vibe of danger was in the air, as not only were LAPD helicopters grounded, but also other helicopters were forced to land.

You cannot take safety risks when it would compromise your life. Kobe Bryant, Richie Valens, and JFK Jr. all died in a crash apparently caused by bad weather conditions. Now Kobe is no more and never arrived at the basketball game, nor Valens to his concert or JFK to the wedding. They were living fast and did not consider taking extra time to take the proper safety precautions, as they did not understand the danger that they were getting into. Living on the edge does not give you a plan B to safely reach your destination. The priority is your life and not the fast lane. Better safe than sorry, Better late than never.

Kobe did not know this was his last day. The morning of his tragic crash, he went to church with his young daughter and received his last communion. The collision took nine lives, including Kobe’s daughter Gianna and his pilot, an Armenian, Ara Zobayan, known for his skills and for flying celebrities. Zobayan signaled the danger and struggled alone without help from the ground. The pain and the loss are tremendous.

His photo flashes on Staples Center, LA Convention Center, the Skyspace, e.t.c.: “Kobe & Gianna Bryant,” “Rest in Peace.” A loving photo of the father and his daughter has been ingrained in our memory. The photo shows Kobe’s love and affection, which radiates warmth from his heart through his smile. Gianna shows her happiness. There is a sweet bonding, and that both are sharing this special moment.

The photo shows that Kobe always made time out of his fast-paced life to be able to have a loving relationship with his daughter. This picture is important because it shows the dedication that he had for his daughter and will remain as a symbol for Kobe and a testament to who he was as a father.

Various tributes to Kobe lined the magazine racks at Vons, dedicated to telling not only of his life but his death. He is featured in magazines such as People, Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, ESPN, Los Angeles Times, and many others. There are also special collectors’  magazines in dedication to Kobe. On every single one of these covers, Kobe is featured wearing a Lakers jersey and smiling from ear to ear, capturing the essence of Kobe and his identity as a legend. 

“Be willing to sacrifice anything, but compromise nothing in your quest to be your best.” Kobe understood the difference between sacrifice and compromise as he used his quote as a code for his life. He sacrificed his life for his daughter’s basketball practice to excel so she could become the best like him. He did not compromise as he had the best pilot from the company he employed. What went wrong? He did everything he could, but fate set in, a matter of bad luck, or was it due to not planning ahead?

Yes, Kobe may not have thought about a plan B. He could have easily used other options such as his personal car, public transportation, or even a taxi. Yes, they are slower and less luxurious, but they are safer. Of course, sometimes accidents happen, but we have to try our best to escape a premature death.

What’s important is what Kobe left behind, which shows us what he cherished the most. It wasn’t about his fame and riches, but about the moments with his family, his daughter during basketball practice, and with God. Kobe, the Lakers star, had a lot to look forward to as he had many accolades, including an Academy Award for his animated short film “Dear Basketball” in 2018, and was paid tribute for his memory in the 2020 Oscar’s Night. Besides his family, he spent time with school-aged children and After Schools All-Stars to help over 72,00 children across the country.

At the end of the day, what matters is how you lived your life. It’s not about the length of your life, but the content of it. It’s not what they did for themselves but what they did for others. No matter how fast, slow, long, or short a life you lived, your legacy will be remembered by your actions and who you were as a person.

Is there a possibility that someone sabotaged Kobe’s helicopter? Or is it just a denial of a loved celebrity’s death that was taken from us too soon? Could he be alive today? Kobe Bryant lived his life before the COVID-19 outbread. Perhaps Kobe was meant to live a normal life before the restriction of the COVID-19, in a world without a mask where celebrities are adored and not forced to lockdown to restrict their famous status. And Kobe practiced his faith in the church and had 25,000 candles in memoriam at Staples Center by his fans. Stop a moment and think ahead! What did we miss?

Kobe was famous and had a super luxurious life, but he had this other side by living a full and wholesome life. The legendary Kobe Bryant is no longer with us, but the last days of his life were sweet and blessed.

Rachel Melikian is former GCC Woman of the Year.

Also by Rachel Melikian: “The Earthquake that Rocked the World.

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