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Kobe’s Death Brought out the Best in All of Us

Trumpers make our nation look hateful and ignorant, Kobe’s death showed the exact opposite

Kris LaGrange's picture
Jan 27, 2020

For the past three years, our social media has been polluted with messages and images of intolerance and bigotry, and let’s be honest, it’s been exhausting. It seems nothing is sacred anymore. Even a little European girl who begged mankind to be gentle with Mother Earth was greeted with a wrath of hate from our country’s highest office. Sadly, that is the norm now.

Then on Sunday, a young millionaire, a retired NBA player, died in a helicopter accident with his 13-year-old daughter and 7 others, and suddenly the skies opened. The Catholic writing this was moved at what he was experiencing.

Like most of you, I caught this news from social media. My wife said, “Oh my God, Kobe Bryant died.” “What! How?” She said, “a helicopter accident.” A few minutes later, she informed me that his 13-year-old daughter was with her along with other people from a youth girls' basketball team. We were in a weird way devastated. Why? Not because we idolize all Millionaires, Hollywood types or big-name athletes. We felt something because Kobe meant so much to so many people. He was a leader, both on and off the court, a family man, who like most of us has had his problems, but a good dad, a coach, a guy who was loved.

The bond between unionists and athletes is a bond few can relate to, but many understand. Wealthy athletes, and unionist with a good job, are the first to share their wealth and spend their off time to benefit the less fortunate.

In his short 41 years on Earth, this is what Kobe Bryant has done to make his mark outside his accomplishments on the basketball court:

  • The Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation was set up to improve the lives of young people and their families through scholarships and operates the Mamba FC soccer club for young athletes. They also work with the United Way of Greater LA, Step up on Second, and My Friend’s Place to provide services for homeless kids in LA.
     
  • Through the foundation, he hosted a cultural exchange between Chinese kids and students from LA.
     
  • Kobe hosted an annual Holiday party for kids in Boys and Girls programs throughout LA.
     
  • After School All-Stars. Bryant was an honorary ambassador to the nonprofit that partners with schools to extend their hours to help low-income children. Bryant was a frequent speaker and fundraiser for the group that serves 14,000 students, 98% of whom are students of color.
     
  • Make a Wish. During his career, Bryant granted more than 250 wishes to kids with life-threatening illnesses. Wishes have come from 27 states and countries like Greece, Belgium, Netherlands, Australia, Canada, Jordan, Uganda, England, Iran, and Israel.
     
  • Bryant and his wife donated at least $1 million as the founding donors of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
     
  • In 2017 Bryant joined other celebrities in recording a commercial for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) about the fight against hatred and bigotry.
     
  • Bryant joined Colin Kapernick’s #10for10 pledge, donating $10,000 to Youth Service, Inc in Philadelphia, PA.
     
  • Kobe, along with Nipsey Hussle, joined the 2014 Trayvon Martin Peace Walk in Los Angeles.

So now what. What’s your point LaGrange. Is what Kobe did off the court for underprivileged kids and for the cause of social justice just a publicity stunt? The answer is a hard no. All types of people, whether they were NBA fans or not, were touched by the tragic news of his death.

Another point is this. Some print publications have said that the “Sports World” was united in messages of sympathy to the Bryant family. That couldn’t be farther from the truth; all sects of our now divided society were reporting and offering condolences on the sad news. Alt-rock radio DJs, musicians, actors, musical artists, average Joe’s and Jills from all states representing all cultures, business leaders; folks from all walks of life.

It seemed like for once, we stopped worrying about what Trump was texting and we concentrated our online energies on Kobe’s death and the details that surrounded it.

The politicians sent their condolences as well, but that came after everyone else did.

Kobe’s death, and our citizenry’s reaction to it, provided me personally with some hope. That good people still do exist all over our great nation. As a father to 2 school-aged children including a girl who plays basketball, I couldn’t help but feel something really personal when I first saw the faces of the kids who died alongside their parents. They died coming back from a basketball camp. Why them we ask, why them?

We have no official royalty in this country like Great Britain. We have business elites like Donald Trump and Elon Musk who are infected with controversy everywhere they go. Even some wealthy athletes and actors are types you wouldn’t allow around your kids, John Rocker and Mel Gibson come to mind but on the flip side, there are so many positive role models in professional and collegiate sports. Men and women who you hope your kids idolize and grow up to become. Kobe Bryant was one of them.

Heaven now has him and through no intention of his own, he gave us a gift on his way up there – a gift of knowing that if you do good things and share your wealth and be the best human being you can be, both on and off the job, then you did the right thing. Unionists reading this should go that extra mile too. Give, volunteer and care.

Thank you, Kobe Bryant, for being a man our kids can look up to and for helping the country to realize that there is still good in all of us.

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