By: Chris Oates
Editors Note: Shenandoah basketball player Chris Oates wanted to mark the occasion of Kobe’s election into the hall of fame with an article about how Kobe has touched his life.
I have a firm belief that life is all about the amount of moments that take your words away. Sunday, January 23rd, was a day where I had nothing to say (and if you know me, I don’t shut up). This article has taken me a lot of time to write. Countless rewrites and self doubt on if this is good enough to show the respect and love that it really deserves.
The world is still in shock, my world is still very much in shock. Weeks ago, the man universally recognizable by one name… the name you say when you are throwing a paper ball into a trashcan… one single word. Kobe. You’ve all seen touching video tributes, 8 second backcourt and 24 second shot-clock violations, and hundreds of social media posts that give you some idea how much Kobe Bean Bryant was loved and cared for throughout the world.
While this is hard for me to write, I believe that I needed to be the one to write this from my perspective. More than just an athlete, more than just a creative genius, more than just a girl dad, Kobe was an inspiration with anything that he did. “Those times when you get up early and work hard. Those times when you stay up late and work hard. Those times when you don’t feel like working. You’re too tired. You don’t want to push yourself, but you do it anyway… That is actually the dream”. Kobe spoke those words to his daughters at his jersey retirement ceremony. That quote hangs in my locker and was the first thing I thought about when I heard the news of his passing.
I never met Kobe, yet his death was something that affected me in such a way where it almost felt like a friend that I’ve known for years was suddenly gone. From an athlete’s perspective, his drive and the love of the process to become the greatest he could possibly be, was something I tried to apply into my career. Always wanting to get
better, always wanting to be the best in everything and not backing down from anyone no matter who they are. My words cannot even describe the respect that he had earned throughout his career on the court, and I could go on and on about the things that he did throughout his post NBA career. But it’s what he did after, which will always hit home for me, personally.
As of right now, my basketball career has 3 confirmed games left and while it hasn’t truly hit me yet, my “second act” is approaching at a frightening pace. Kobe taught me that with the same laser focus, attention to detail, and of course hard work will give you just as much success off the court that it did when I was lacing shoes up every day for practice. That’s how I took the “Mamba Mentality”. No matter what we do, we love the process instead of the destination, and we love the late nights followed by early mornings.
But something so much more inspiring that he did better than anyone, and in my opinion will forever be his greatest accomplishment was his role as a girl dad. Unfortunately, we lost his 13 year old daughter Gianna too. We all saw her dominate her AAU tournaments with moves that made us miss the “Jersey biting” Kobe Bryant but we all also knew that she was next. Everyone, including myself, was waiting for the day they announced a boy to live on the Mamba lifestyle. Not Kobe. After his death, everyone came out with beautiful stories of him talking about how much he loved being a girl dad, being a great advocate for women, and making sure they always have chances in this world.
And I’ll admit, in my future I’ve always wanted a boy so that I could give him lessons in basketball and sports. But when I look back on it now, I can’t
believe how I could be so ignorant. His second act is something all of us men can only dream of.
The “out of nowhere” passing of Kobe, Gianna, and the 7 others that lost their lives on that day has taught me, we think we have so much time in our lives. (coming from somebody that nearly died just a few years ago, it truly comes out of nowhere) We spend so much of our lives not saying the things we want to say, the things we should say to one another. We speak in 10 second Snapchats and in emojis, we show our love in Retweets and Instagram likes. So now and always, plainly and simply, we need to say that we love each other. We take trips to the store for granted, we take phone calls for granted, we take each other for granted.
Reach out to people that you haven’t talked to in a long time, squash beef that you may have with somebody, love one another each day you have life, breath, and opportunity.
Thank you Kobe, for not only concreting the meaning of ‘hard work’ and developing our craft that I will give my son or daughters.
Thank you Kobe, for maturing the way I think of life and the failures that will come as days go, and that there’s no such thing as failure as long as you try again the next day.
Thank you Kobe, for loving everyone regardless of gender, race, sexaulity, and teaching us no matter who we are we can accomplish greatness.
And finally, Thank you Kobe, for being you and in your final moments, being a girl dad.
Mamba Out. But Never Forgotten.