“Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise” – Kobe Bryant
Each day I have ventured into Los Angeles since January 26, 2020 I am moved by a line of his shirts along a fence downtown or an art memorial, purple and yellow, life and loss, overtaking a previously plain wall. Gianna, thirteen is far too young to die, even if as my coach put it, “we aren’t birds, we aren’t meant to fly.”
The day of the NBA Finals, Los Angeles rejoices, a championship won for Kobe, his presence felt all along the way. But as I hear the cheering and fireworks from the street, I can’t help but think nineteen is too young to be raped.
While the victim was silenced, Kobe did live by his own advice and grew from the darkest part of his being through decades of advocacy for women’s sports and homelessness. More than 50 percent of homeless women have been raped. His real apology was not the one made in front of cameras but his actions out of the public eye. Perhaps realizing his daughters could join the 1 in 5 inspired such a journey of personal transformation.
2003 changed Kobe for the better, though it is still challenging to reconcile this growth both with the lack of justice and a sudden and tragic end. A celebration of life is a celebration of what makes us human, which is that we are all simultaneously capable of both love and hate. If we choose violence one day, the next day we can again choose kindness, atonement for past sins. While the start and end of this story is everything negative, Kobe’s capacity for inspiring millions by creating light from the dark is everything positive.