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.
One night I was perusing the internet and came across a clip of an entertainer named Lizzo. She had just performed her song “Truth Hurts” at the BET awards and her performance was trending. I had never heard of this artist nor the song before this moment but decided I would give the video a few minutes of my time.
I was mesmerized by her performance. I started listening to some of her other songs and watching other performances she’d done and that’s when I decided…
I want to be fat like Lizzo.
Like most high school teenagers I thought I was fat and needed to lose weight. At 5’4” and 150 pounds, my doctor agreed with me. I was slightly overweight for my height, but even on my best day I could only get down to 145 pounds. I was very active. I watched what I ate, worked out regularly, and even participated in sports. However, I could break the overweight threshold.
After giving birth to my first child my weight struggles escalated. Now I struggled to maintain the 150 pounds I worked so diligently to hold onto in my youth. I tried to stay active and eat healthy but that decreased in consistency over time.
I’ve always had a passion for fitness. I went on to become a certified personal trainer and eventually obtained a degree in health and fitness. All it meant was I knew what to do and was qualified to help people do it. However, I continued to struggle with the goal of getting my own body weight in that healthy range.
I eventually left the fitness industry, gained about 50 pounds, and started living a very mundane and depressing life. I not only hated my poor health, I hated my job, I hated where I lived, I hated my boyfriend, and probably even hated myself. I knew that losing weight wasn’t going to solve all my problems, but looking in the mirror reminded me of the disarray my life was in. I hated it!
When my mom died, I resolutely decided to reclaim my life back. I dumped my boyfriend, lost the 50 pounds I’d gained, quit my job, reconnected with fitness personally and professionally, and even started teaching group fitness classes. I felt like things were looking up.
Four years later I found out I was pregnant with child number three and child number four. Just two months after giving birth to two beautiful baby girls, my boyfriend died suddenly.
Present day, I am 5’4” and 197 pounds. My cholesterol is high and my blood pressure is creeping up too. My knees ache constantly and my diet sucks. I’m exhausted constantly and I have two 3-year-olds to keep up with. Technically, I’ve always been fat, but now, I truly feel it.
Working in fitness for as long as I have, I’ve seen people in all shapes, sizes, and fitness levels. I used to admire the fit physique, the bikini body if you will. Now, I admire the fit lifestyle. I didn’t look at Lizzo and see a fat girl in little clothes. I didn’t see a big girl on stage in something she had no business wearing. I didn’t see another entertainer out here sexualizing herself for attention and sales.
I just saw a talented, hard-working woman pursuing her dream with all the vibrance and energy in the world. I saw a woman who clearly loves her craft and takes it seriously. I saw a woman that put effort and sweat into the preparation of her performances. I saw a woman that could’ve danced circles around me on any given day. This woman just so happens to also be fat. And when I saw her on stage dancing, singing, playing the flute, and loving every minute of it, I decided that if I’m always going to be fat anyway…
I want to be fat, just like Lizzo.
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.