What Kobe Bryant’s Death Means To Me As A Father

Stephen R. Sylvaine/USA Today Sports

I remember the day I found out I was going to be a father. In an instant, my life changed forever. And in the immediate aftermath of my wife breaking the news to me, I experienced a roller coaster of emotions that most first-time parents can relate to — happiness, excitement and yes, nervousness and uncertainty. After all, for all the parenting content that exists, there is really no absolute blueprint for raising children, as everyone’s experience as parents will differ.

Every once in a while, in the months leading up to my wife’s November 2018 due date, I’d get asked how I was doing. In those conversations, the topic of fear would come up. What was I afraid of? By this time, we knew we’d be having a son, which took my excitement to a whole new level. But as I was preparing to become a dad, what did I fear? Excluding the financial aspect of raising children, which is every parents concern, I had, at the time, three things that worried me: 1) My fear that my son would pick up some of my qualities that I’m not proud of 2) That I would not do a good job as a dad and he would resent me when he got older and 3) A tragedy would happen and I would not be there to see him grow up.

The latter is why the untimely death of Kobe Bryant has shaken me so much.

For those in my age range, we’ve grown up with Kobe. We were in middle and high school when he first entered the league. We remember the prom with Brandy. Back when collecting cards was a thing, we had his. We remember the dunk contest, the championships, the feuds with Shaq and the sexual assault trial in Colorado. We have been there from the beginning to the end. So, to now refer to him in the past tense is unfathomable.

To be fair, I was never his biggest fan. I respected everything he did on the court, but I could never go all in. I was a Jordan guy. To jump on the Kobe bandwagon, someone who copied a lot of MJ’s game and on-the-court antics, would be sacrilegious. I had to protect the Jumpman shield.

However, something changed in recent years as Kobe’s career came to an end and he transitioned into retirement. He seemed more human. More likable. I saw him as a father. Like many of us in today’s age, he proudly shared his family with the world via Instagram. You mean Kobe has to pose for corny Christmas pics too?! Celebrities are larger than life. The fascination with them is often rooted in the fantasy world they are perceived to live in. The money, the house and cars, the unlimited resources and the universal admiration. Kobe had that and more. If we’re being honest, we all want a piece of it.

It felt like we were just really getting to know him. And as the news began to break on Sunday and the accurate details were reported, never was Kobe more human to us than in his death. Because the more we found out, the clearer it became to me that this wasn’t just NBA legend Kobe Bryant who died along with eight others. It was dad and husband. It was me. It was my friends who are fathers.

It’s well-documented that helicopter was a normal mode of transportation for him. It was routine. I can only wonder if he took that for granted on Sunday like we do in our daily lives. I wonder if he was rushing out of the door. I wonder if he put something off until later, operating under the assumption that he would take care of it when it got back home. I thought about that and realized I do it often. We all do. I thought about my drives to and from day care. I thought about my commute to work. I thought about just going to Target or the barbershop on Saturday mornings. All those things are part of my routine. I do them not thinking I might not make it back home. We go through the motions at times, taking for granted the gift of life that we are afforded. Any loss of life is tragic, but I think it would’ve been an easier pill to swallow if we knew Kobe was sick or had the fortune of growing old. But no, he spent his Saturday night watching basketball like many of us and got up Sunday morning to go to his daughter's basketball game — something I dream of doing one day with my son.

There will be analysis breaking down how the accident happened. It will be an important anecdote for sure. The “why” is something we may never be able to comprehend. That’s the enigma of life. My heart breaks thinking about those final moments as the inevitable set in. As a father, I’m positive fear took a backseat to love and protection. I’m sure Kobe made sure to let GiGi know everything was going to be alright, even if it wasn’t. That’s what fathers do.

I got up Monday morning to take my son to daycare, just as I always do. Only this time, I slowed down a bit, took time with getting him dressed and playtime before we left. Once we were in the car, I took time to enjoy the ride. I thought about Kobe and the fact that he’ll never get to experience that with his daughters again.



37 | Lover of life | Husband | Father | Hamptonian | Believer | Leader | Runner | Host of The Fatherhood Podcast | @jamarhudson

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Jamar Hudson

37 | Lover of life | Husband | Father | Hamptonian | Believer | Leader | Runner | Host of The Fatherhood Podcast | @jamarhudson