When news about Kobe Bryant’s death hit social media, like quite a few people, I just knew it was a hoax. I spent a few minutes outraged by the insensitivity of the internet before researching its legitimacy. I quickly found out that it was indeed not a hoax.
As I started grieving the loss of this beloved husband, dad, philanthropist, and decorated athlete, I almost immediately wanted answers to an array of questions.
Was it weather-related?
Who else was with him?
Was his family on that helicopter?
Where was he going?
How could this happen?
And as the details began to surface over the following 24 hours, I remember reading that he and 8 other people were on their way to a practice. I thought, “Practice? He was taking a helicopter ride to practice?”
I started to think about how much safer it would’ve been to just drive. Why would they do something so risky just to go to practice? It was just practice. A helicopter ride to practice? Was that really necessary?
The short answer is…yes.
Now, the Christian in me probably should have accepted that when God decides your work on Earth is done, He can call you home whether you and your family feel ready or not. The analytical side of me probably should have deduced that statistically there are more car crashes than helicopter crashes so just driving wouldn’t necessarily have saved their lives. However, my mind went in a very different direction.
I remember being a senior in high school myself while hearing television broadcasters and radio personalities talk about this kid from Philly going straight from high school into the NBA. This seventeen-year-old kid was just a few months older than I was. He was too young to sign the contract without his parents cosigning along with him, but what an amazing opportunity! This “kid” was about to embark on the journey of a lifetime.
Not only did this kid from Philly get drafted into the NBA before he was even old enough to vote or by a lottery ticket, he would go on to dominate the game. He racked up accolades ranging from scoring records to MVP titles. He was truly a legend, and when he retired after 20 years not just in the league but with the same team he was celebrated around the world.
This was an extraordinary man, who did extraordinary things, like take a helicopter to practice.
It was a reality check for me.
We spend our whole lives playing it small. We do what’s safe. We bet on the sure thing. We limit the chances we take. We live in a comfortable place, and while living a monotonous and mundane life, we wonder why some extraordinary opportunity hasn’t manifested itself yet.
SURPRISE! When you live an ordinary life, your life tends to be ordinary. However, when you live a legendary life you tend to do legendary things, like take a helicopter to practice. The fact that the first thing I thought about was how reckless of a decision it was to take a helicopter to practice is most certainly the reason that I’ll never be taking any helicopters to practice.
It’s also the reason I’ll never make a difference. I’ll never be great. I’ll never leave a mark or make an impact in the world. It’s the reason I’ll never ever ever be legendary to anyone…ever.
It’s said that great people do great things, as if the great things made the great person. What I realize is that the person was already great. They had greatness inside them, and they understood the importance of tapping into that potential. It gave them the encouragement to do great things. It motivated them to work hard, take risks, and be brave. The great things they did long before they were recognized as legendary is what got them recognized as one of the great ones. They’ve always needed the courage to do great things, before and even after becoming legends. Playing it safe and running away from risks is not how you change to world, or yourself for that matter. What most see as unnecessary to survive, the great see as very necessary to thrive.
The helicopter ride did end his life and the lives of others, but it did not end their legacies as we can clearly see. Taking risks and being willing be do extraordinary things are the imperative steps needed to find greatness.
I was embarrassed that I almost missed such an important lesson.
After spending a year in grief counseling, I started to see that my life needed a major overhaul. Yes, my boyfriend died making me the single mom of our infant twins, but I was still grieving my loss of innocence from decades of abuse. I decided to turn my pain into a new purpose and to share this journey with others that may need some motivation.