Bigger than basketball

REFLECTING ON THE BLACK MAMBA’S WIDESPREAD IMPACT


Kobe Bryant’s untimely death sparked strong emotions from generations of basketball fans from across the world. HALEY KEIZUR/FOGHORN

Hursh Karkhanis is a senior finance major

When my close friend flooded our group chat (fittingly named “Lakers for Life,” after our favorite NBA team) with texts that read, “I HOPE IT’S NOT REAL” and “NOT KOBE,” I did what everybody else did: I went to Google and read the latest news. From that moment on, it was like a movie; first, my younger brother called almost in tears, then my mother called with sadness in her voice, all while my group chat was blowing up with news articles and tweets. 

Most basketball fans had the same experience on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 26, and between receiving panicked calls and texts to turning on the news and seeing the headlines, our shock and denial slowly turned to acceptance and most importantly, reflection. 

Kobe Bryant was my childhood hero, and of all the things I found inspirational about him — his tenacity on the court, wealth of passions outside the game, and well-spoken manner during interviews — the thing I thought of the most during those hours and days after his death was his isolation. 

Kobe was good enough to enter the NBA after high school, so he decided to skip college and make the leap at the age of 17. He was the youngest player in the locker room and always felt like an outsider — his teammates would go out after games, while he was forced to stay in his hotel room since he couldn’t legally drink yet. Kobe internalized those feelings of being left out and used them to double down on what he wanted to do. He spent time in the weight room while his teammates were out drinking, and read books on investing and money management while his peers were at strip clubs. Today, everyone is trying to follow a trend and appear like they are living their best lives on Instagram, but Kobe willingly defied such trends. He was different and was comfortable with being so, something that comes from both a relentless work ethic and a tremendous amount of self-belief. 

When a significant part of your childhood leaves the world so unexpectedly, tragically, almost helplessly, the sadness that comes over you can be equivalent to that of a close family member passing away. In the moments following the shock, however, the motivation to self-reflect is just as strong, and I opened up my journal on that Sunday afternoon and started writing about my life and how I want to live it. 

Kobe was known for having a wide set of interests, and this has inspired me to branch out of my comfort zone like he always did. Kobe was well-read, even once asking President Bill Clinton for a book list, and it inspired me to make a trip to Gleeson to pick out a book about investing in options, something I’m thinking of trying myself. Kobe was a loyal family man, and this trait moved me to evaluate how much I talked to my family on a weekly basis as well as really take stock of who I saw as my friends. 

Finally, he was admired for his never-ending pursuit of excellence, and this inspired me to strive for the same, instead of simply “playing for average” like I tend to do sometimes. There is no question that this tragedy has given me a new perspective on life and, moving forward, I certainly plan to use the motivation he has inspired in me.

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