Kobe Bryant, the retired NBA superstar, died on Jan. 26, stunning people around the world.
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among nine victims of a helicopter crash in California.
The helicopter, which belonged to Bryant, was on its way to Gianna’s basketball game.
The news probably stunned people more than they would have expected, or maybe they went about their day as usual.
Bryant, 41, won five championships, all with the L.A. Lakers. Known for his fierce competitiveness—and his athletic similarities to Chicago Bulls and NBA basketball legend Michael Jordan, whether it be in his style of play, the way he carried himself or the way he spoke—Bryant is the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history.
LeBron James passed him on the all-time scoring list on the day before the crash.
Since retiring in 2016, Bryant had remained in the public spotlight, coaching his daughter, supporting the U.S. women’s national soccer team and winning an Oscar for best animated short for “Dear Basketball,” which documented his retirement from the NBA.
In 2003, fans were stunned when Bryant was charged with sexual assault after a 19-year-old woman reported he raped her at the hotel where she was employed. Charges were eventually dropped at the request of the accuser, although she later filed a civil lawsuit in which Bryant agreed to a settlement. Bryant apologized to his wife, Vanessa, when the charges were filed, and he said his encounter with the woman was consensual and proclaimed his innocence.
Possibly, the only people who know what happened at that hotel are Bryant and the woman. And so it remains difficult to form a clear opinion of Bryant, even though his adulterous behavior was an obvious mistake.
Despite Bryant’s complicated personality, it is understandable to be upset by the news of his death and the reality of life being lost unexpectedly. Hearts will also be heavy in remembering his daughter, who had her whole life ahead of her.
Jay Williams, who previously played for the Bulls, said the tragedy is a reminder that, regarding the minor problems that people experience with each other, they should “let that sh— go.” He said he knows that life can change in an instant because after one season his career was cut short due to a motorcycle crash.
Williams is right; Bryant’s death reminds us that life is complicated—and precious.