I cried on and off for four hours on Sunday, for a man and a family I normally would hardly think of. It’s not that I don’t like Kobe, but I had no reason to think about him most days. After all, he was indestructible, he’d be around forever and every once and a while it would be the anniversary of his 81 point game and maybe I’d think about him for a bit and that would last a very long time.
Kobe was my first hero. I was six years old, I did not understand or like basketball, I did not like the Lakers, and I did not know a single other player in the NBA, but I had a Kobe Bryant poster in my room. According to my dad, he would get frustrated because I wasn’t a Spurs fan due to my unwavering allegiance to Kobe. As time passed I swapped the poster out for one of Shawn Alexander, switched sports allegiances entirely, and that whole time of my life became a haze as I aged. I am a Spurs fan now.
Yet, upon hearing the news, it felt exactly as painful as if six year old me had heard it. As if a long-dormant part of my brain suddenly lit up with memories and then was stabbed with a dagger before they could be processed.
After much thought, I don’t know why I looked up to Kobe. There are probably more than a dozen reasons someone would admire him, and I just can’t remember what mine was. It’s heartbreaking. I want to know why he was my hero, so I can tell people later what he meant to me, because clearly he meant a lot. Otherwise I wouldn’t be so distraught. I suppose, just being someone people look up to is an admirable trait in itself. People like Kobe carry the weight of thousands of kids who hung up posters of him on their walls upon their shoulders, and they don’t stop carrying the burden even when they leave the Earth.
Vincent Rendon can be reached at Vrendon@sagebrush.unr.edu or on Twitter @VinceSagebrush.