Mavericks Lakers Basketball

Former Laker Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant attend a game last year between the Lakers and Mavericks in Los Angeles. The pair were among nine people killed last month in a helicopter crash in California.

I would have never imagined I’d one day spend a Sunday night sitting on my bathroom floor crying over a 41-year-old retired basketball player. But when Kobe Bryant was tragically killed in a helicopter crash last month, mourning him was all I could do.

I never was a big basketball fan, but Bryant was more than a basketball player. Sure, he was a star shooting guard and small forward, but he was also one of the most famous athletes to my generation. I’m not aware of any teenager who didn’t know who Kobe Bryant was. He was a global phenom!

Still, the most heart-wrenching part of the tragedy was that his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, also died. Learning of the Bryant family’s two-person loss — and the death of seven others on board who were all on their way to a youth basketball tournament — broke me.

Because my dad and I seem to have a relationship similar to “Gigi” and Kobe’s, the incident really struck me on a personal level. My dad is my traveling club volleyball team coach, and we go on many long road trips together to play a sport we’re both passionate about. This is exactly what the Bryants were doing when they were killed.

Sadness stemming from the Bryants’ deaths has not dissipated. Countless teens have been triggered by the incident, and the internet has become a worldwide mourning platform for all victims of the crash.

Part of what I believe has made this tragedy so painful is the fact that it was so sudden and uncontrollable. Many celebrity deaths that we hear about on the news today are attributed to drug and alcohol abuse — heartbreaking losses, but not always unexpected. Kobe Bryant, however, was just trying to be a good dad.

Kobe Bryant was an inspiration to an immense number of people, for both his basketball career and his ability to better himself in his later adult years. Past, present and future generations will never forget him.

Ivy St. Clair is a junior at Santa Fe High School. Contact her at

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