Off the court, Bryant still impressed, right up to his last moments.
With the sudden death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, on Sunday, a lot has been shared in the press and on social media about Bryant’s outstanding talent and drive, and the motivational force he was on the basketball court which inspired millions. Though some of his past choices off the court were not without controversy, some of the greatest praise he has received was for the kind of man and dad he had become. In his last 24 hours, the Philadelphia native demonstrated this, away from the heights of the basketball hoop.
Began the day with Mass
On the day of his death, a Sunday, many reports have said that Bryant started his day at the Catholic church in Orange County, California, where he regularly attends. As Fr. David Barnes shared on Twitter, Bryant’s commitment to his faith will be a great source of comfort to those who mourn him, and inspiration for others to go to Mass:
As sad as Kobe’s death is, a friend texted me today to tell me that a friend of her’s attends the same Catholic Church as Kobe and saw him this morning at Mass. There can be nothing more consoling to those who mourn than to know that a loved one worshipped God right before his death because worshipping God is what heaven is. Go to Mass. Go to Mass. Go to Mass
Singer Cristina Ballestero, spoke of meeting Bryant one day during Communion at Holy Family Cathedral and posted on Instagram the impact the encounter had on her: “His most inspiring trait was his decision to turn to his faith in God and receive God’s mercy and to be a better man after a regretful decision.”
A friend and a gentleman
Just before Bryant’s death, the champion tweeted his friend, former teammate and protégé, LeBron James, who had just surpassed his record to become the no. 3 All-time Top Scorer in the NBA, scoring 33,655 career points — 12 more than Bryant.
In true sportsman style, Bryant tweeted to James what was to be his last ever tweet:
“Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother.”
This gesture not only displays respect and kindness, but shows other sports fans across the world what it is be a true champ.
Dedication to being a great dad
The helicopter ride Bryant and his daughter took was similar to many father/daughter rides to the Mamba Sports Academy, founded by Bryant. Perhaps one comfort Bryant’s wife and Gianna’s mom, Vanessa Bryant, can take from this tragedy was that the two died side by side, doing something they loved to share together.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all nine victims and their loved ones from Sunday’s helicopter crash.