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We don't often publish editorials here on HungryFan.com. But—thankfully—we don't often lose iconic sports legends in tragic accidents. The following editorial was written by our own Marquel Collins-Gray as he processed the loss of Kobe Bryant. You know Marquel Collins-Gray as the voice of our vlog series, Sports Bites, or from our occasional Instagram Lives with Hungry Fan founder, Daina Falk.
January 26th has always been one of my favorite days—it's my birthday. But January 26, 2020 will be a day that I will never forget. It was the day that a horrific helicopter crash killed nine individuals. And one of the passengers on that fatal flight was Kobe Bryant.
Now let me set the record straight. As a Dallas Maverick fan, I was never a Kobe Bryant lover. Just like Michael Jordan, I loved watching him play, but because he wasn't a Maverick, so I was always rooting against him (mainly because he kept kicking our ass). But when the news of Kobe dropped on Sunday, just like everyone else, I was in complete disbelief. With so much click bait out there, you never know what to believe. The first person I reached out to was Daina Falk. I figured if she confirmed it, it had to be true. Before she could respond, I continued to receive "Breaking News" alerts on my phone and just like that, my heart dropped. I thought, "Some birthday this is turning out to be." I tried to go fishing, but that didn't work. I just couldn't wrap my head around it all. And it only got worse when the news broke that his daughter was among the other passengers onboard.
At that point, my mind went to where I think everyone's went: Questions upon more questions. They overwhelm you. Why? What? How could this happen? It saddens me to think that we'll never know the answers to some of these questions.
In an effort to break away from the situation, I flipped to the Farmers Insurance Golf Tournament. I watched it for about thirty minutes and then realized, "These guys have no idea yet." (Side note: Every caddie should've gotten more than the standard 10% because that was huge. Especially Tiger's caddie).
When Tiger, who I like to call "Dub," found out about Kobe, you could see his shoulders sort of drop.
The next day at the Australian Open, players were expressing their respects in awesome ways. Nick Kyrgios walked on court with a #8 jersey; Rafa Nadal wore a Lakers ball cap; and Novak "Djoker" Djokovic sported both #8 and #24, Kobe's initials, and a heart stitched on his jacket. Players in the NBA showed their love writing Kobe's numbers on their shoes and let the clock run out. You couldn't help but tear up a little.
Then it dawned on me that somebody, somewhere will someday soon make a timeline documentary on this day, and rightfully so.
We Americans have a way of honoring our greatest athletes. I wouldn't be surprised if the Staples Center renames the arena The Kobe Byrant Arena. They'd have to find a way to continue to support the sponsor while changing the name. But I'd bet if they took a vote on this in the city of LA, it would get done! That is how much Kobeoshi meant to that city. I wouldn't be surprised if schools and sports complexes bear his name one day soon too. Why not? It's a brilliant way to honor a guy who was more than a legendary sports figure.
What made Kobe so awesome after retirement was the fact that he was available. You saw him on The Ellen DeGeneres Show several times either helping people win some cash or congratulating women on their success. One of his best endeavors, in my opinion, was his endorsement of the WNBA. Witnessing him watching those games courtside with his daughter was and will remain an indelible, unforgettable image. The biggest question that I have now is, "Which one of today's male athletes will step up and continue to support this incredible league?"
Kobe's daughter Gianna wore the #2 and Kobe's second number was obviously #24. 4 divided by 2 is 2. … "Half of me". He was already letting us know about the next phase of Bryant basketball dominance could be found in the jersey numbers.
Kobe, thank you for all of the memories. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. May we remember all of the passengers who lost their lives on January 26, 2020.
R.I.P. Black Mamba