Loss of an Icon

On January 26th, 2020, we lost a true icon, along with some other special fathers, mothers, and daughters. At exactly 9:45 AM, in Calabasas, California, the world lost: John Altobelli, age 56; Keri Altobelli, 46; Alyssa Altobelli, 13; Christina Mauser, 38; Ara Zobyan, 50; Sarah Chester, 45; Payton Chester, 13; Kobe Bryant, 41; and Gianna Bryant, 13 — all gone way too soon. All nine were heading to the Mamba Sports Academy to attend the girls’ AAU basketball team game, in which Gianna Bryant (Gigi), Payton Chester, and Alyssa Altobelli were all playing. The name we have seen most in the headlines is Kobe Bryant, simply because of how much of a superstar he was, but everyone whose lives were taken in that helicopter crash was just as important. Our prayers go out to all the families and friends affected by this tragedy; the whole world is mourning the loss of these lives. 

There have been many tributes to Kobe and Gigi all over the world and even here at Rectory. At the Varsity B’s basketball game on January 28th, Coach Rodman dedicated the last 24 seconds of the game as a moment of silence in honor of the death of Kobe Bryant. Many NBA teams took the first possession of their games as either a 24-second violation or holding the ball behind the backcourt to receive an 8-second violation, dedicating these violations to both of Kobe’s numbers, 8 and 24. The tradition of throwing a paper ball into the trash and yelling, “KOBE!” has been emphatically requested to be kept, and to never be changed. It has been suggested that the name of a common park game called “21” be changed to “24.” These are just a small fraction of the ways people have already honored Kobe, and I will honor him and his daughter by writing “R.I.P. Kobe #24” and “R.I.P. Gigi #2” on my shoes before our next away game. 

Lastly, it is important to mention all the great accomplishments Mr. Bryant achieved in his lifetime. Starting with basketball, the “Black Mamba,” as Kobe was affectionately called by himself and his fans, is currently 4th all-time in scoring (33,643 points), 16th all-time in steals (1,944), and 7th all-time in minutes played (48,637). (All stats are from his time in the NBA.) But that is not all. Kobe was a 5-time NBA Champion, 2-time Finals MVP winner, 17-time All-Star, a 1-time Dunk Contest Champion, 2nd all-time highest scorer in a single game (81 points). And there’s more! Kobe played 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers; he had 12 All-Defensive selections; he won 2 Olympic Gold Medals, 1 MVP Award on the 1997 All-Rookie Team, 2 Best NBA Player ESPY Awards, 1 Espy Icon Award, and 3 BET Awards for Sportsman of the Year. I have not even listed all of the accomplishments he achieved in his lifetime, and this is a huge list already! 

Although Kobe won so many awards, the most important and greatest successes that ever happened to him were his children and his wife, Vanessa Bryant. We will continue to carry on Kobe’s legacy, and everyone in that crash will never be forgotten. The way I will remember Kobe is by his classic quote, “I’ll do whatever it takes to win games, whether it’s sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate, or hitting the game-winning shot.Spoken like a true champion!!