Kobe's Death: A Reminder That No One Is Immortal

On the morning of Saturday, January 26, just after we got home from our daughter’s ballet class, my husband walked down the stairs and said, “Kobe Bryant died.” We were putting away the Christmas tree (don’t judge – it was a busy month) and I had the, natural, disbelieving reaction: “What?!” He gave me the few details the news could report at that point, shortly after the helicopter crash.

Then, confirmation that one of his daughters was with him. We stopped packing up for a few minutes. This was a tragedy.

Then, the pictures of Kobe and Gigi started circulating on social media and it just kept getting sadder and sadder. The videos of her growing up with him, on and off the court. It doesn’t get more poignant.

Then, confirmation that all nine of the friends and family in the helicopter died. Including three members of the Altobelli family – mom, dad, and daughter. There are two Altobelli kids who were not on the helicopter that day, meaning they lost both parents and a sister that day. There was the girls’ basketball coach, who was a mom to three young kiddos. The very upsetting list goes on . . .

A reminder that life is precious. That we are not in control of everything. That money cannot protect you or guarantee your kids’ safety. A humbling month in America. Also, a bit of a unifying month, in a way, even though the nation was ripped apart during the senatorial drama of the Trump impeachment proceedings and while the Democrats duked it out in the primary races. We found unity in the fact that this helicopter crash was really friggin’ sad and that we shouldn’t take anything for granted.

A family friend, who was a detective in LA for many years, said that celebrities in LA are flying around in dangerous flying conditions all the time because they want to avoid traffic. This friend believes that the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash will probably save a lot of lives, in the long-run, because people will proceed with caution when they were not doing so previously.

I hope so. We always hope good comes from bad. But reminders like these are still painful and make the toughest of us to sit and inventory all the good and the luck we have in our lives.

I don’t want to turn this into a pitch to “get a will” because you might die unexpectedly. That’s implied, I think. Instead, I want this to be a pitch to hug your family and friends. Enjoy them. No amount of money will guarantee anything for any of us – so take it all in while you can. (And, get a Will.)

As an interesting side note: Kobe’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, filed a lawsuit against the company that operated the helicopter and the helicopter pilot himself (who also died in the crash) on Monday, 2/24/2020, the day of Kobe and Gigi’s very public memorial in LA. The timing of the filing is interesting to me and it will be further interesting to see how this one plays out. I was hoping the administration of Kobe’s estate would be a private affair, outside the public eye, but it looks like we’ll be hearing more about this one as the months go on.

Published 02/27/2020.