I don’t even know how to begin putting into words or writing a blog about the hardest day of my life. A simple blog feels like an injustice to try and express the excruciating pain of losing the 2nd most important man in my life so far. Losing an athlete like this to some might seem like a blip in the radar, a tragic story that you write a few RIP tweets and say wow how sad for his family and go on with your life, but no Instagram caption will quite do it for me.
I know it seems dramatic to say this is the hardest day of my life, and I feel lucky that I’ve managed to get through almost 31 years without experiencing a pain like this, but forgive me. That’s how much Kobe Bryant meant to me. You can’t tell my life story–one which I guarantee no one feels like hearing–without Kobe. But I’ll try to do it anyway because I’m hoping it proves therapeutic in some way, so I don’t even care if anyone reads it.
Truth is, I don’t know what else to do right now. I haven’t done much since hearing the news. At first it was hard to breathe. Since then it’s been hard to do anything but cry. I’ve always been a big crybaby and this for sure isn’t the first time Kobe has made me cry. In fact most of my best memories of Kobe involve me crying. Winning game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals my senior year of college at Boston University in a bar full of drunk Celtics fans wearing a Kobe Bryant jersey is probably the best one. I was always so proud to wear your name on my back. I’ll forever be proud to wear your number on my arm and every time I need a buzzer beater hail mary in life I’ll look at it and know you won’t let me down because you never have.
Growing up, loving you became my personal brand. My #1 fun fact in school ice breakers. When you asked the rest of the 6th graders at Western Hills Middle School in Cranston Rhode Island in 2000 if they knew who Ali Weitzner is, I’d be shocked if their answer wasn’t “oh yeah she’s that weird girl that’s obsessed with Kobe Bryant”. On AIM I ran the away message game with my first screename, lakergirl848. Either that or they’d say I was the girl who cared way too much about doing good in school. I like to think that was a little bit because of you too, Kobe.
As inappropriate as it feels to say, Kobe pretty much raised me. I mean my parents certainly helped, but everything I learned about perseverance, relentless passion, and being shamelessly myself in the face of adversity I learned from Kobe. Whenever I felt self conscious about being that psycho Kobe Bryant girl, when something didn’t go my way, whenever I absolutely didn’t think I could get through something, Kobe’s the reason I got through it. Mamba mentality exists because it’s real. Maybe the closest thing to religion I’ll ever know.
Many of you reading won’t find that nearly as weird to say because you feel the same way about Kobe too. That’s what makes this so profoundly difficult, we’re all hurting, even Celtics fans. Kobe had a way of bringing people together. If Kobe was in the building, everyone wanted to watch what he was doing. People hung on every word he said, in all 5 languages he spoke. Kobe’s words meant something. To some, Kobe’s words meant everything.
I’ve probably written hundreds of blogs (sorry) and even worse, millions of tweets (not sorry) professing my love for Kobe and the effect he’s had on my life personally. Reading my very own Dear Kobe, tribute letter upon his retirement announcement is tough on a day like this. People always say to make sure you appreciate your heroes while they are here and I am at peace knowing how much I appreciated every gift you gave me and millions of other people while it was happening. Man, I almost lost my voice cheering for you in your last game in Boston. I had to mute my own Instagram video it was so obnoxious. I really hope you could hear me Kobe.
If I could go back and relive one Kobe memory right now I think it would be his last game. I cried almost as much as I did today. Watching you light up the entire world, seeing so many people affected by your passion, your spirit. What you gave us through basketball and after basketball watching you live life is the only thing keeping me going right now.
Anytime we lose someone beloved by so many people we always try to do “what they would have wanted”. Everything I know about Kobe I know he’d want us to keep going, shoot those free throws after tearing your Achilles, learn to shoot with your left hand if you have a broken finger, change your game to get better, to adapt. I hope I can get there, Kobe, and that I can help carry every thing you taught me throughout the rest of my life. For now I’m just fucking sad. Heartwrenchingly, disgustingly sad.
This was a day that will change my life forever. I find some solace in knowing that there are millions and literally I mean millions of people that are feeling the same pain right now. None of which compares to what his wife Vanessa and their 3 other daughters are going through today losing their father, daughter, sister, husband. Kobe’s youngest daughter was born in June. She’s not lucky enough to have the lifetime of memories we have with Kobe. That’s the saddest part. What Kobe gave us through the game of basketball was minuscule compared to what he was going to inspire us to do after his career on the court ended. And I can’t even begin to think what we’re missing out on not getting to see Gigi Bryant pave her own path in history because that too, was destiny.
Kobe’s favorite thing in the world was telling stories, he wasn’t shy about that. He had so many stories left to tell. This is the worst ending of the best story I’ve ever heard. But it’s all part of your story Kobe–and I’ll never stop learning from you.
I’ll try to use your own words to get through this.