Updated: Mar 17
"Legends never die, they inspire generations."
I was standing in the grocery store when Christopher Bolden called me.
When he said to me "I got some bad news about Kobe," I thought he was just letting me know about him being passed by LeBron on the all the time scoring list. What he said he next, I had no way of preparing for.
Honestly I couldn't even really process everything he was telling me, because I was frantically searching every one of my social media accounts along with news outlets that I trust, to see if what he was saying was being reported elsewhere...but before I could verify anything, I heard another guy and his son in the produce section yell out, "Oh my God it cant be true." I looked over and saw both him and his son staring down at his phone with the same shocked and sad look... then slowly but surely as I made my way to the front of "Grocery Outlet" others in the check out lines started pulling out their phones and talking to each other, in what can best be described as a state of disbelief...
On January 26th, 2020, 9 people lost their lives in a tragic accident. While no life has more value than any other, the founders of the Black Coffee Company were deeply affected when it was confirmed that both Kobe & Gianna Bryant were included amongst those who had perished.
All five founders of #BlackCoffeeCo became young adults & men (1999-2010) roughly during the same period and timeline as Kobe. Over the past 20 plus years we have been inspired by his countless successes and motivated by his failures. During this time period in our lives, no other black man on the planet (Barack Obama aside) has been more polarizing than Kobe Bryant.
Perhaps this is why we have each seen something within Kobe that reflected a core aspect of our own personalities. Knowing that he both simultaneous inspires great awe and an equal amount of negative reactions amongst people, is akin to what we feel daily existing as black men in society. Knowing how hard he worked everyday to be the best basketball player, father, and leader in his community while some would always see him as a bad guy, resounds with us. Knowing that on one widely reported night he made series of decisions that almost cost him his career, family, and freedoms is something that feels very familiar.
Kobe wasn't hero or villain, he was a man with aspirations for his children. Kobe wasn't some fictional character who only entered our homes via primetime and playoffs basketball, he was a real person that had a profound impact on the lives of so many. The loss of his life isn't some abstract idea, it is a hard hitting reality that will affect us as fans, fathers, and men for the rest of our lives.
A couple days after his passing, my wife asked me why I wasn't showing any signs of sadness of grief, she didn't understand how a "Kobe fanatic" like me wasn't completely devastated. I shared with her, the same sentiments I will share with you all.
I am hurt and deeply saddened by this tragedy, but I wouldn't be doing his memory justice if I let grief consume me. Kobe lived every single day relentlessly pursuing goals for his family, himself, and his community. If I have learned anything from studying his pathos & life story, it's that we do not have a single moment or day to waste. I am a father to two daughters, a proud #GirlDad which means it is my duty to create a standard of the type of global citizen they should aspire to be. This is how Kobe lived up until his final moments, teaching his daughter(s) and the community around them the type of work ethic & dedication it took to achieve your dreams.
We must live our lives to the fullest extent and then push ourselves even harder if we want to achieve the success we proclaim. This is what we all have affectionately come to know as the #MambaMentality ....now I won't ever pretend to be as driven as Kobe was, only few can attain that level of focus, but I promise to stay committed, and always work hard, pursuing every life goal with his spirit in mind.
John, Keri, & Alyssa Altobelli
Sarah & Payton Chester
Kobe & Gianna Bryant