Kobe & GiGi and all those families

28 Jan

Too many of my recent blog posts have dealt with death and grieving. And here’s another.  Sorry about that. I promise I’ll write more positive content next. But … Kobe Bryant’s helicopter crash with the deaths of his daughter and 7 others got us here.

What is it about celebrity deaths that pull at all of our heartstrings?  Kobe Bryant’s passing in a helicopter crash, made all the more tragic because 8 others, including three 13 year old girls, a couple, and two more moms, and the pilot all were killed as well.  But that aside, what is it?

In reality, other than nostalgia (when an older celeb passes), “wished I’d seen” (when a favorite performer passes), and of course the tragedy factor like this one, celeb deaths don’t truly affect us.  Yet we still grieve. Fans of Kobe and the Lakers were drawn to the Staples Center to gather and support each other. The Grammy’s opened with a tribute. NBA games around the league devoted their opening “packages” to him. Outdoor signage at stadiums lit with his visage, and more.  We connect with them. We admire them. Their talents entertained us and made us happy.  To know that’s gone forever is what makes us grieve.

With this one though, here’s what pulls my heart strings –it’s the kids and it’s the similar to our real lives. It would be one thing if that chopper went down with Kobe and the pilot and maybe one other adult person. Yes, it would have been tragic. But we’re talking whole families having their lives upended.

The fact that makes this even more real to all of us is that this was more or less the same scene so many of us have played out in our SUVs and minivans. They were “carpooling” – albiet in a style the rest of us don’t have access to – to a youth basketball game. Just like all of us have done to basketball, baseball, soccer, dance lessons, music lessons, etc. Three girls from the team. The coach and assistant coach. Couple of moms and one dad. This could have been any of us from that perspective, loaded up in an SUV or minivan pressing to get to a game. To me, that’s what makes this so tough.

Yes, we’re going to miss Kobe and his future contributions to film, to art, to sports, to basketball. But what matters most to me is his widowed wife, and their three remaining kids, one only 7 months old who will never know her Daddy. The two teenaged sons of the baseball coach and his wife on board with their 13 year old daughter who now face life without their parents and their sister. The husband and twin 16 year old sons of the mom with her 13 year old daughter. The husband of the assistant coach and their three young children left behind. The family of the pilot. It may feel personal to us, but to them, it’s inescapably personal.

Had this accident happened on a highway, with 3 kids, and 6 parents killed in a horrific highway crash, without the Kobe Bryant connection, it still would have made national news. It’s that horrific of a tragedy.  That it happened in a luxury helicopter, with one of the best NBA players ever to have played the game involved, makes it more newsy.

Events like these teach us a few lessons, and they bear repeating every time.

  • Every day is a gift. Period. You just never know when your number will come up.
  • Hug your loved ones and make sure they know your love for them as often as you can.
  • Life is for living.

Tragedies like this make that shit show going on in Washington and the White House seem insignificant.
PS:  Photo credit to Ethan Miller of Getty Images, also known as my lovely wife’s first cousin!

As you were,

Stew

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