“Don’t go into the house yet.” My son was reading social media posts as we pulled into the driveway today. “Kobe just died.”
Perhaps just because of his iconic status, it was like a punch in the gut. Kobe? I watched his whole career. Admittedly, I’m not a basketball guy, but Kobe transcended basketball. He was a worldwide star during his time with the Lakers. I remember his incredible talent, his ability to take over a game, the unfair criticism he faced because he wasn’t Michael Jordan, his unrelenting competitiveness, his feud with Shaq, the rings he won, and watching him drop an easy 29 on the Grizzlies one night in Memphis late in his career, the only NBA game I’ve attended.
I remember his struggling marriage after serious mistakes. I remember the sensationalism surrounding such personal events, wondering why anyone would ever want to live in that kind of spotlight. I remember how many people spoke so highly of him as they saw him with his daughter talking basketball. I remember the day before he died how he congratulated LeBron for passing him on the scoring list. And I’m not even a basketball guy. Those close to him must be completely devastated.
Today, I’m also remembering what always comes to my mind when someone like this dies suddenly…
You are more than an athlete or coach. If that’s all you have, you don’t have much.
You are more to people than you probably realize. Kobe was. You are too.
You are not guaranteed anything. Not even the next breath.
You are no different from anyone else when the day of death arrives. We are all on even ground before the Lord when this life is over.
You are accountable in eternity for who you were on earth–and being a good person or great basketball player isn’t what God will care about. Jesus plus nothing.
You will leave it all behind. No matter what you do for a living, live for what matters.
The news about Kobe and his daughter is heartbreaking. I’m praying for his wife and remaining children. I’m praying I remember.