Hero, Idol... A Legacy to Forever Live On


The world is still processing the tragic loss of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi and seven other passengers who perished Sunday in a helicopter crash.  The effect Bryant has had has transcended beyond the sports world.  The tweets, Instagram and Facebook posts from millions of people shows us how much Bryant touched the world.

Photo courtesy of usatoday.com
It’s amazing how sports can do that.  In times of tragedy sports can be that mental release from the real world.  When a player of this magnitude is lost, lost in such an unexpected way, it touches you to the core.

Bryant was an idol to so many fans.  He was also an idol to the NBA players’ community.  Bryant was an idol and a hero to Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum. 

As a child, Tatum looked up to Bryant - he was his basketball hero.  Tatum would try to mirror his game off Bryant.

“Ever since I started playing basketball, I wanted to be just like Kobe,” Jayson Tatum shared for a column in 2015, when Tatum was a senior at Chaminade.  Tatum worked out with Bryant during the 2018 offseason.  If we look at the big picture with Bryant mentoring Tatum, Bryant would be taking one of the brightest young NBA players under his wing.

On Sunday when the world started to learn Bryant had tragically died, Tatum did what we all did.  He took to Twitter, trying to ascertain the unfathomable.  At 2:52pm, Tatum would tweet “Nooooooo cmon someone say it ain’t true... I’m sick to my stomach right now.”

It’s incredibly hard not to get emotional reading the tweets of Tatum and his peers in the NBA.  The raw emotion you can feel from the words typed makes my heart ache.

In the games following the Bryant’s death, teams in the NBA would pay tribute to the Lakers legend by taking a 24-second shot clock violation.  Ironically the number 24 was the same number he wore as a Laker.

On Sunday night, the Celtics were in New Orleans to play the Pelicans a mere hours after the news of Bryant.  It was learned before the game that Tatum would not play.  Tatum was battling a groin strain.  He was also dealing with the loss of a friend, his hero and icon.

Tatum, like millions of others, took to Instagram so he could share his thoughts and feelings on Bryant.

“Heart broken. My Hero. My Idol. The reason I started to play this game, the reason I fell in love with this game.  Growing up wanting to be just like you, to you becoming a mentor, beyond thankful for everything you’ve done for me.  “I didn’t have a plan B.  I put all my eggs in one basket and I knew I was going to make it happen” hearing you say that stuck with me every day of my life.  You inspired me and I am forever grateful more than you know!  Love you Bean 🙏🏽❤️!  Sad, sad, sad day RIP Kobe and Gianna! Praying for the family!”

Players would take to social media as an emotional release to the loss of an icon.  Bryant's former Lakers teammate Shaquille O'Neal posted to Instagram to say he was sick over the news.

On Monday night, Lakers superstar LeBron James finally broke his silence.  James took to Instagram and delivered a heartfelt post.

“Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had!  I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA.  Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have.  WTF!!  I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!!”

“Man I love you big bro.  My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids.  I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man!  You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation and it’s my responsibility to put this s--t on my back and keep it going!!  Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me!  I got US here!  There’s so much more I want to say but just can’t right now because I can’t get through it!  Until we meet again my brother!!”

I can’t help read that and get the chills.  Literally if you read that and aren’t emotionally caught up, you’re numb to this situation.  I’ve never in my life wanted to see King James persevere more than I do now.  As a human being my heart hurts for these guys because take the sports out of it, these are humans.  Humans dealing with real emotions no matter how much money is in their bank.

As each player pays their respects on social media, the vigils outside the Staples Center, ESPN airing Kobe’s last game he would ever play.  All of this allows his legacy to go on.

A legacy that will forever be entrenched in NBA lore.  A legacy that will be enshrined into the National Basketball Hall of Fame.  Bryant captivates fans across the globe.  In the coming weeks, months and years, it’ll hopefully begin to get easier for his family and friends.  There will be honors and tributes to Bryant.  The biggest honor now would be that number 24 not be worn by any player ever again.

His greatest legacy will be a dad to his little girls.  On ESPN Monday night Elle Duncan shared her interaction with Bryant.  Duncan would go on to say, "When I reflect on the tragedy and the half-an-hour I spent with Kobe Bryant two years ago, I suppose the only small source of comfort for me is knowing he died doing what he loved the most," as she choked back the tears.

"Being a dad. Being a girl dad" added Duncan.

The rest of this NBA season will be different.  NBA All-Star weekend will be an emotional roller coaster for players.  It should also be a celebration for the game and for Bryant’s career.

As Tatum mourns the loss of Bryant, he should know that the thoughts and prays of Celtics fans and Boston sports fans alike are with him.  On Sunday, Tatum, James, the NBA, Vanessa Bryant and her little girls all lost a hero and an icon.

Boston is with you LA.  Every time our teams would meet, it was always ‘Beat LA’.  Well, I can tell you, we’re ‘With LA’ right now.

RIP Kobe Bryant, thank you for being a competitor, thank you for your excellence, and thank you for taking the game to the next level.

The world has lost a hero and an icon.

Kobe Bean Bryant.

Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisHenrique

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Hero, Idol... A Legacy to Forever Live On
Hero, Idol... A Legacy to Forever Live On
Boston Sports Syndicate
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