23/09/2020

Shrines and memorials continue to pop up across Southern California. There’s a reason why Kobe meant so much to so many.

No life or death is more or less important than another. Not Kobe Bryants, nor his daughter Giannas, or the seven other victims of the tragic helicopter that fell to earth on Sunday. Not those who pass silently and anonymously every minute of each day, either from old age with a lifetime of memories or at the very beginning of it before a single one has been created.
Yet there is a reason why certain deaths make us feel a particular way, and there have been few in recent times that resonate more strongly than that of the retired Los Angeles Lakers superstar. In truth, more than a day after his passing, it is as much about us as about him.
We burn with the grip of sadness for cherished family members and friends because we knew them and saw them live their lives, celebrated and laughed and cried with them. Our inner circle makes us feel things, love, joy, protectiveness, frustration and so much more, in a way that others generally cant penetrate.
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Rest In Peace pic.twitter.com/JOw0nux67a
— STAPLES Center (@STAPLESCenter) January 27, 2020
Bryant had his own family that will miss him on a level beyond anyone else, but he also entered the lives of millions far beyond simply watching him play. Thats why there is still only one thing anyone is talking about today, and why that will continue for the next while. Thats why there is a lingering sense of loss for so many, not like losing a relative but not far from it; a genuine emptiness, regardless.
As the reality of Bryants death dug in, so too came the tributes at locations near and dear to him. The area around Staples Center and across from it at L.A. Live in the heart of the city resembles a monumental shrine.
When I visited early on Monday, there were candles and caps, countless Bryant jerseys, messages and mementos. Someone had set up a makeshift basket on the ground where well-wishers could take a shot in his honor.
We want all kinds of things from our lives. Comfort, safety, stability and warmth. Once those basics are out of the way, we seek entertainment. Bryant was a walking movie, but also a lot more. There were lessons to be learned in the way he focused and showed passion and strived, and yes, the times he failed both personally and professionally, too.
City Hall and the LAX pylons will stay illuminated in purple and gold for the rest of the week.
Rest in power. pic.twitter.com/IPsuyS25fW
— Mayor Eric Garcetti (@MayorOfLA) January 28, 2020
He didnt matter more than anyone else, but he impacted a greater number of people than most of us can ever hope to manage. Whether by making us happy or gloomy, through inspiration or example, by living his life in the public eye and never shirking from it, he held a presence.
Sports, for those who hold them dear, provide the backdrop to our own story, something to share and delight in, something to distract us from difficulty, to bond generations and provide heroes to aspire to.
Bryant the hero was depicted at another popular spot for visitors on Monday, at the famous mural of him outside the Shoe Palace store on Melrose Ave. in Hollywood. The painting shows him in mid-air, arm outstretched, soaring toward an imaginary hoop for a thunderous dunk. By mid-morning, thousands of Post-it Notes with personal messages had been stuck to it.
Down in Orange County, where Bryant made his home and lived his recent life as father first, businessman second, with basketball often an afterthought, they will miss him, too.
.@stefondiggs opens up about what Kobe Bryant meant to him
“I grew up a Lakers fan, my dad liked the Lakers. … I love Kobe. I was a Kobe guy. It was tough for everybody. I haven’t felt that way about losing somebody since my dad.” pic.twitter.com/TCSFXNtkkV
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) January 28, 2020
Near his Newport Coast residence, another location swiftly filled with flowers. At cafes and restaurants he was known to frequent, there were signs, messages, and words of remembrance. So many, yet still a drop in the ocean compared to all the spots where Bryants passing was felt. He was a global star for an international game.
For Angelenos, Bryant was in some ways the figurehead of a generation. He made it okay to be proud to be from these parts, an area of the country sometimes derided as being fake or shallow.
He oozed star power and the pursuit of excellence, but now he also represents something else, something we didnt want him to be.
He is who we will think of, perhaps first, when we consider sporting icons who left us too soon.
pic.twitter.com/Y2hNr1QXG0
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 27, 2020
He is the reason an NBA game, completely appropriately, was cancelled and why perhaps tens of thousands will turn up at Staples Center on Tuesday night anyway, even with the Lakers regular-season meeting with the Clippers having been called off.
In Los Angeles, it hasnt felt quite right since that most sudden of Sunday shocks. There has been a general sense of unease in these parts, a strange pall that no one can adequately describe. Bryant was an athlete and a leader. He didnt change the course of world history, but he made the time he lived in more memorable. Creating memories so many of them and so dramatic is why his name is held so fondly.
Late in life, youll likely be able to count on two hands the number of news events where you can recall where you were, who you were with and how you heard about it.
Think about it now for a moment. Chances are, youll remember the details of Kobe Bryants passing, however long into the future it is before your time comes. Which, in a sense, is all you need to know about the meaning of who we just lost.
Remembering Kobe Bryant pic.twitter.com/wac0NNZ7NP
— NBA (@NBA) January 28, 2020