Kobe Bryant, his teenage daughter, and seven others died in a tragic helicopter crash yesterday just minutes from my house. Bryant’s untimely death is another reminder to cherish the moments you have with loved ones.
It was a foggy morning in Los Angeles yesterday and I heard the news from Barbara Klein on NPR while driving home from church…it will be one of those moments, like 9/11, where I will remember where I was for the rest of my life.
Long before my love of travel and frequent flyer miles, I was a huge fan of the Los Angeles Lakers. I grew up watching the team get better and better until it finally recaptured the NBA title in 2000 (and again in 2001 and 2002).
My uncle’s neighbor did visual and lighting effects for the Lakers at Staples Center. On February 19, 2000, he invited my uncle to the game. My uncle knew I was a huge Lakers fan and included my brother and me in the invitation.
The Lakers were playing the Philadelphia 76ers and won the game 87-84. That would have been enough, but then my uncle’s friend brought us down to the Laker’s locker room after the game.
I got to meet several Lakers I admired, including Shaquille O’Neal, Robert Horry, Derek Fisher, Rick Fox, and A.C. Green.
And Kobe Bryant.
He stopped to say hello. He signed our Lakers posters, smiled, and shook our hands. This was before smart phones or else I’d post evidence…instead, the encounter lingers only in memory.
It says so much about someone when they are kind to others. Bryant stopped to talk to everyone who had managed to wedge themselves at the door of the locker room. He probably wanted to rush to his helicopter to get home…but he stopped and acknowledged all the people who were so delighted to see him, including me.
Those Dangerous Helicopters
The deadly crash of Bryant’s helicopter reminded me of another helicopter crash…a Blade chopper that crashed into the East River in March 2018. It was the same helicopter that I had taken from Manhattan to Newark Airport months earlier. What if it had been me on that helicopter?
Slate reports that you are 85x more likely to die in a helicopter crash than a car crash. Even though the odds remain very much in your favor, it still a sobering statistic.
The loss of Bryant, only 41, is tragic enough. The loss of his daughter and the other youth onboard compound the tragedy.
I’ll get on helicopters again…but not in fog. No way.
Hard Work + Precious Life
Faith provides comfort, but families are now broken and the whole world mourns. Bryant wasn’t perfect…none of us are. But Bryant’s hard work and dedication should prove an inspiration to us all and offers a blueprint of success. The idea that what we accomplish in life is simply the product of our circumstances is not a satisfactory conclusion. Even with the inherent obstacles that race and class can place (and do place) on many, Bryant demonstrates the tremendous value of hard work and perseverance. Even as a tall guy, his skills were not innate. His story inspires me to work harder.
But this story caused me to grip my wife and son very closely last night and again this morning. I am more thankful than ever for my dear wife and son and my precious family and friends.
Every day may be our last…time like an ever-rolling stream bears all its sons away. What gives me great solace is the rest of that hymn. But here’s a universal application: do not take those around you for granted. Shower loved ones with affection today. Reconcile with your neighbor and enjoy the life that you have been given. Your day–and mine–may be coming sooner than expected.
A few things about kobe. Add yours:
. Kobe was a quick learner. After being accused of rape in 2003 he never got in trouble. He learnt that many women are willing if you negotiate the price first.
. Kobe was fluent in Italian. Wow
. Kobe’s youngest was just a few months old. Obviously he still had hots for his wife even after 20 years and 3 kids.
. Flags in LA are half mast. Wtf? Only people that have provided service to society should deserve that honor.
.NBA is too black and needs to work on diversity. We need to see more whites, Hispanics, indians, asians, transgender.
I took helicopters a few times then I started to wonder “what if it crashes?” Every time, I took a helicopter, it was not necessary. In contrast, taking an airplane is necessary. I cannot travel between New York and San Francisco on a donkey or between New York and London on a sail boat (sorry Greta Thunberg, and she does have an anger problem).
Finally we agree on something. Many rich men and politicians are targets for people coming out 10, 15, 20, 30 years later who then make accusations and of course file a 30 million dollar lawsuit. Of course they wait right before an election instead of making an accusation earlier when a person has been a public figure for 20 years. But Kobe publicly read a statement saying how he understands why the woman would think it was rape and the accuser stopped cooperating with prosecutors after the settlement. People settle frivolous lawsuits all the time to get their names out of the paper. That’s understandable but no innocent person is going to admit what Kobe admitted.
You are right about the lack of diversity in the NBA. If find it very unpleasant to watch when I don’t see whites fairly represented. If the argument is that blacks are more likely to be better basketball players because of genetics, I agree, but that should extend to businesses and education where people should be chosen for their abilities and not because of affirmative action demands.
“But Kobe publicly read a statement saying how he understands why the woman would think it was rape”
Which isn’t quite the same thing as admitting he committed a rape.
It is a measure of the person when they do the things you mention outside the glare of the media. Quite rare these days, I suspect.
I don’t like choppers. I have a friend in Indonesia who owns one, to save on traffic time. I always try to find an excuse for not going on it, even if it means 2 hours on the road v 12 minutes.
Like his rape trial?
A friend once told me: there are two types of helicopters – the ones that have already crashed and the ones that will probably crash. No tks!!!!!
Very thoughtful and meaningful to me Matthew. Thank you.
Well said, Mathew. Appreciate your sharing your experience and your thoughts as we nurse our broken hearts.
We took a copter flight over Cape Town last month (tourist). Have flown both Military and civilian helos over the year’s but lots of things carry risk.
I will say that my all time favorite flight was inland and along the Cape Town coast; the views were phenomenal, the photo op was something that really could only be replicated front the 210° view from the front passenger seat. YOLO would I daily by helo
outside of the military probably not.
“it will be one of those moments, like 9/11”
you didn’t quote the full sentence…
Wouldn’t make a difference.
I think it makes all the difference. Wasn’t trying to equate those two events beyond the fact that I will remember where I was when both occurred…
Again, I stand by what I said. Granted, I’m not the biggest Kobe fan to begin with, but to each their own.
“wouldn’t make a difference” — the full sentence is exactly what you need; not selectively cut and pasting. Career advice: if you don’t already, you should work for a cable news network. They love doing what you just did.
Thanks for the advice, but my standards are too high for a dump like FOX News.
Well said Matthew!
But still low enough for CNN. Much like Fox, they’ll higher anyone as long as they have no moral compass. Either way, the good news (for you) is the bar is set low and the excellent selective reporting skills you have will take you far no matter where you end up whether it be Fox, CNN, etc.