What Kobe Bryant’s Death Taught Me

By Rogan Smith |
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I have been a fan of Kobe Bryant’s forever. Not Kobe Bryant the basketball star. Kobe Bryant the man.

I’ve always respected his work ethic, drive, willingness to help others and most importantly, his humility. The fact that he was born in August and is a virgo, like me, endeared me to him even more.

So, naturally I was devastated when I learned that he died in a helicopter crash alongside his beautiful daughter, Gianna, whom he affectionately called, GiGi.

I, like most of the world, was in absolute shock and not sure how to react. But, as the tributes and news reports poured in, highlighting the 41-year-old’s life accomplishments, I started to mull over my own legacy and more importantly, my purpose.

GiGi and her dad, Kobe.

I remember walking around an H&M store Sunday afternoon, the day that Kobe died and started talking to God, asking Him why He took him so soon, especially since he was helping so many people. And in a very quiet voice, God said, “Because it was his time. He did what he was put here to do.” That was it.

When I heard that, I immediately felt a level of comfort. I think most people struggle to understand just why they were put on this earth. I’m no exception. I’m always questioning my purpose. I don’t think I’ve discovered it entirely yet, but I have a strong idea.

Discovering Purpose

One of the things I learned about Kobe following his death, was that he was passionate about helping the homeless. He and his wife, Vanessa formed a charity to help homeless youth in LA build self-sufficient lives. I nearly cried when I read that because I have always had it in my heart to help the homeless.

“On my way to games, I noticed children and families living on the streets blocks away from where I play,” he once said.

“This issue is one that kind of gets pushed on the back burner because it’s easy to point the blame at those who are homeless and say, “Well, you made that bad decision. That is where you are. It’s your fault. In life, we all make mistakes and to stand back and allow someone to live that way and kind of wash your hands of it . . . that’s not right.”

He was so right. It always pained me to see people rummaging through the garbage looking for food, or being exposed to the harsh elements because they didn’t have a home. And it always bothers me when someone says someone deserves to be homeless because they didn’t plan properly. Not everyone is homeless because they didn’t plan, and no one deserves to be homeless.

While volunteering at a shelter, I met a man who used to be a productive member of society. While serving him food, I asked him his story. He told me that his house had burned down years ago and his wife and children were killed in the fire. He said he mentally checked out and didn’t want to live. He eventually became homeless. Everyone has a story.

An incredible mural of the fallen basketball legend.

My thoughts about homelessness went into overdrive when I visited Los Angeles in 2018 and witnessed the homeless crisis up close and personal. I was there to celebrate my friend’s 30th birthday, and we were so excited, thinking we were going to run into movie stars and all that fun stuff. Instead, we encountered people of all races and ages living in tents throughout the city. They were everywhere. Outside fancy restaurants, outside five-star hotels, they were there.

I couldn’t understand how a wealthy state like California could have such suffering. I learned that many of the homeless people came from other colder states and settled in California because the weather was better.

So, I certainly understand what Kobe meant. It was hard to ignore.

No matter what city I’m in, I always give to the homeless when I am in a position to. I think God intentionally wants me to disturbed by this epidemic because he wants me to do something about it. And, I do in my own way. And when I’m in a position to help on a larger scale, I plan to.

Kobe helped a lot of people while he was alive and I am thankful to him for serving as a tremendous inspiration to me and so many others. His death was not in vain.

I leave you with one of my favourite quotes from Kobe: “The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great in whatever they want to do.”

Well said, sir. Well said.


This Bahamian Gyal

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6 Replies to “What Kobe Bryant’s Death Taught Me”

  1. Yes indeed their deaths has touched people every where
    I still believe it’s a dream
    Then every where you go you hear his name
    What an impact Kobe has made on each of us
    Its amazing
    K love to help others to and do do with my limited resources whenever I can
    I pray others will see the need also to help
    Dont look down on a man
    The only time you should look down is if you’re offering a hand to help him up
    My motto
    God bless

    1. Oh, I couldn’t agree me. His impact is amazing. And I would never ever ever look down on someone who has less than me. Any one of us could be homeless. Glad to see that you help out as well. God bless you!

  2. I was at home when I heard the news, around 8pm GMT. I’d just sat down on the sofa for a rest and opened the Instagram app to see a photo of Kobe Bryant and something like ‘RIP to the greatest’ from another NBA player. I was a bit confused, but didn’t want to make any assumptions to opened BBC News where the headline was ‘NBA Legend Kobe Bryant dies in helicopter crash’.

    It’s the first time in my life that I’ve been saddened to the brink of tears on hearing of the death of somebody I never met.

    When I was younger a family friend got me into basketball. It’s not that big in the UK. At the time Michael Jordan was at his prime and I loved watching Michael play. Then I remember seeing a young kid – who probably looked the same age as me at the time, ~13 – playing for the LA Lakers and that was it, from that moment on I was a Lakers and Kobe fan.

    Since my mid-teens he’s been my idol. He was the greatest player ever to me, and really seems to be a good guy away from the game too.

    1. Wow. I got emotional reading this. I felt the same way. When my friend posted it on Facebook, I felt something sink down in the pit of my stomach. It’s crazy how attached we get to people that we have never met. But, I suppose that’s just life. We admire them from afar and feel a connection. Kobe was really an inspiration. He had his flaws, like most people, but I always admired his work ethic. He died a champion in my eyes. Thanks for taking the time to post. I was happy to read your comment. Have a great day!

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