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Gone Too Soon: Kobe Bryant and What He Taught Us

Processing the death of a legend, and how his Mamba Mentality can help us heal.

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Me and Kobe, 2016 (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Mamba Mentality is all about constantly trying to be the best version of yourself. Focusing on the process and trusting in the hard work when it matters most.

-Kobe Bryant, 1978-2020 

Kobe Bryant’s death is hitting me hard. It’s hitting everyone hard. I grew up in LA, am a huge sports fan and was obsessed with basketball growing up.  Kobe is only 7 months older than me so I followed him from the moment he donned that first purple and gold jersey with the number 8 on it.  I was also extremely fortunate to be able to sit courtside at the Laker games for the last 6 years of his career and watch him express his incredible gifts just inches away. Over the years we shared hugs and high fives and I felt like I knew him. The fans went on an emotional journey with him every game, elating in the triumphs and agonizing in the defeat. We now come together again in real agony. His heart, his talent, his work ethic, and his smile were unparalleled.  He was truly a light that generated so much joy for the city of Los Angeles, the entire sports world, and me personally and it is just such a tragedy that he and his sweet Gigi’s life was cut so short. 

Kobe was the embodiment of hard work. In high school, he woke up at 4am everyday, got the key from the janitor and entered the school gym to take 500 shots before school started. He finished the day with another 500 shots.  At 15 years old he said “At the end of my career I want to be known as a talented over-achiever. I was blessed with talent, but I worked as if I had none.” That is the Mamba Mentality. That is the ultimate competitive spirit. A competition that was between the human him, and the self-mastery, the mythical, the hero him.  And the hero won.  And now this hero has fallen and the pain is being felt around the globe.

As we search for meaning and understanding of how this incredible talent and icon could’ve been vulnerable to life and die so young, along with his precious daughter Gianna who was overflowing with her own gifts and talents to express, let us continue to be inspired by his mindset.  It was his mindset, after all that made him a superhero.  Just like he was blessed with talent, we are all blessed with the ability to HEAL. It is in our DNA. It is inherent in the design and function of the human body.  And just like with Kobe, it is our mindset, our dedication, and our commitment that will ignite our own super powers within.  

If you are on a healing journey, take a page out of Kobe’s playbook and adopt a Mamba Mentality.  Dedicate yourself to the lifestyle changes that are necessary in order to support your immune system and healing process.  Forgive the regrets and resentments of the past.  Commit yourself to the daily practices that will increase your positive emotional state, deepen your spiritual connection, and reduce stress.  Epigenetics and the placebo effect are your teammates, ready to support you when you put in the work. Sure there will be blood, sweat, tears, and fears throughout the journey but “focusing on the process and trusting in the hardwork” is what makes a champion.  That is the mindset necessary for you to overcome the challenges in your life and heal.

As a mother and a wife I cannot fathom the pain that all the families of the victims are experiencing right now. To lose a child is the absolute worst nightmare. I send strength, prayers, and love to Kobe’s wife Vanessa, their three girls, and the entire Bryant family. As well as to all the other families: The Altobelli family, The Chester family, The Mauser family, and the Zobayan family.  It is heart wrenching on so many levels. God bless their souls.

Grief is a profound process.  It’s been hitting me like waves as a whole gamut of emotions washes over me. The anger, the pain, the sadness, the fear, the guilt, the suffocation, the questioning.  Legends like Kobe are supposed to be untouchable, right? If he was vulnerable, what does that mean for the rest of us? My faith is completely rocked.   I can only make sense of it by looking back on Kobe’s extraordinary life and continue to be inspired by it.  To wake up once again to the fact that tomorrow is promised to no one, and that every breath is a gift. Kobe will live on in the hearts of the hundreds of millions of people that he touched.   His greatest passion beyond basketball was being a dad. A girl dad, as he said.  And it gives me some inkling of solace knowing that he and his precious little Mambacita are together now, wrapped in the warmth and grace of God’s love.

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