Processing The Loss and Things I Learned From Kobe Bryant

We lost an all-American hero this past month. A man who became the loving husband and father his family needed. We also lost Kobe’s daughter, Gianna, and her basketball teammate, Alyssa Altobelli, her mother and father, Keri and John. A basketball assistant coach, Christina Mauser, was also killed in the crash as was Payton Chester, another basketball teammate, and Payton’s mother, Sarah. It is always hard losing loved ones early, and it is also hard to know how to understand why these things happen.

There are two things that are important to do during times of loss.

First is to grieve with hope that one day we will see those we have lost too early. 

I don’t think there is a family who has not had to process losing someone you love, and by the way, it always seems too early for us who have to remain behind.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.”  (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

This verse gives us all hope when we lose someone we loose too early.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;  and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25-26).

Kobe and his daughter have not died. They are living with Jesus right now.

Second is to celebrate the things you admired about them

There are many things I am sure you could list about Kobe and those who were lost. It is important to learn, grow and celebrate those who make a difference in our life and the lives of other people. I never got to meet him personally, but like many of you, he was on display for all the world to see.

There were four things I admired about Kobe and the way he lived.

First - He was a great learner and wanted to better every day.

As an athlete in the NFL, the great players put in the work that no one else did. I don’t think anybody out worked Kobe on the basketball court. His hard work, sometimes at 3 am, I heard, enabled him to wow us all on the basketball court.

Second - He owned his mistakes and admitted it when he was wrong.

I was so impressed by Kobe’s public repentance and willingness to own his mistakes. That is a rare thing with the media, celebrities and our political leaders today. Forgiveness is not possible without repentance.

Third - He learned how to become a good husband and father.

In tribute to his wife, Kobe had a tattoo inked on his right bicep featuring her name, a crown, angel wings and Psalm 27.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?”

A newsperson asked him if it disappointed him to not have a son to pass on his legacy.  Kobe said, “Girls are amazing,” he told her. “I would have five more girls if I could. I’m a girl dad.” #girldad

Fourth - He was a generous man especially when the cameras were not around.

There were many stories of Kobe’s trips to hospitals, late nights teaching underprivileged kids as God’s generosity poured out of him. It is hard for any of us to understand the pressure put on men like Kobe. That pressure many times pushes men and women to the edges of life where it is easy for them to isolate and feel entitled and make life about them.

I have several friends who had kids in the same school as Kobe’s kids. They told me he didn’t act like a superstar, he was just a great dad who loved his kids who readily volunteered and loved being with his children.

Thank your Father for letting us watch how you loved a man and turned him into the husband and father his family needed. Bless the Bryant family and friends and give them the hope that this world is not the end of their story! 

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Published on February 28, 2020.

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