DEAR KOBE,

1/26/20

Jay C. Brandriet

 

Dear Kobe,

Today, you and your daughter died in a tragic helicopter crash. There were seven others that did not survive. My heart breaks for everyone and their families.

I’m numb. It was just 1:05 pm. I blinked, and it was 4:25.

I’ve never been so affected by the loss of someone I did not know.

Magic was my favorite.

I was a Jordan guy because I was mesmerized by his level. I was protective of his status in the sport.

I saw you on TV in the mid 1990’s saying you were going to skip college and take your talent to the NBA. They showed a few highlights. It was your eye balls that let me know right then, you were a threat to be the greatest ever.

Instead of pushing you away, I decided to keep you close. You became my guy before you took a dribble as a pro.

I knew you would be one of the ten best players to ever live. I shouted it to whoever would listen. I was persistent. My passion could not be contained. I called 1320 KFAN five days a week to get on the air. The Utah Jazz flagship radio station hired me to begin an eleven year run.

I studied you.

I had to argue for you, a lot!

Your early career swagger spawned a lot of haters.

I built my leisure time around you for nearly two decades.

I watched you play almost 1,300 times.

I interviewed you on ten different occasions.

I even got to tell you how you inspired my life.

In your time, you were the face of focus, determination, and winning at all costs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s really hit me today is how Kobe Bryant has impacted my life and my relationships.

Your journey ties me together with many people I care about.

Your dedication to your craft helped build a community around me.

Thank you for title number four. You shut up the many who said you would not win without Shaq. My Mom, brother, and my Grandma Shirley were a big part of that series.

And title five? Oh goodness. Beating the Boston Celtics in 2010, was the great escape. I’m forever thankful David Schultz does not have that trash to talk.

Thank you for giving Russ Riggs and I endless voice mail wars.

The Redeem Team was in trouble late in the Gold Medal Game.

To see Russ text, “Give it to Kobe” was awesome. You knocking down those clutch buckets felt like a personal victory for me.

 

Thank you for growing from that impatient phenom, to the coolest villain to ever play in the NBA.

I doubted your capabilities once. It was in your final game as a broken down version of yourself. Thank you for proving me wrong and dropping 60.

Thank you for being left out of the G.O.A.T. conversation, and being too self secure to care.

Thank you for knowing and thinking the game so deeply.

How you transitioned into life after the NBA, put pop culture on notice.

You were worldly and intellectual. You retired from basketball, and won an Oscar.

Thanks for your story telling, your support of the women’s game, and for becoming the NBA’s most popular Uncle figure.

That same fearless, ambitious kid,  somehow became the games adult in the room.

Thank you for pouring yourself into being a father.

The player you were lit a flame in me.

The man you became, and the loss of your life at age 41, will push me even further this time.

I’ll love you forever “Black Mamba.”

 

Jay C. Brandriet

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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