Kobe Bryant: Living in the Spotlight, Seeking the Light

Kobe Bryant:  Living in the Spotlight, Seeking the Light

By Christy Cox

Does everyone act like a moron around “celebrities” or is it just me? 

At a DC restaurant a few years back, Willie from Duck Dynasty was there in the back of the room, giving me license, I reasoned at the time, to act like a clown.

I positioned myself between occupied tables of Washington’s elite and took a selfie featuring Willie over there in the background – him oblivious – just so I could post a social media pic confirming I had been within feet of a REAL LIVE FAMOUS DUDE!

And so how does that exactly increase my stature? 

The answer:  it doesn’t. 

Me:  I happen to know that dude from Duck Dynasty.

You:  Really?  Wow!  How long have you known him?  What’s he like in real life?

Me:  Well, I don’t know.  I only saw him eating once but I know that he uses a fork, because, like, I saw it for myself (as I whip out my phone holding the sacred proof of our brief encounter, in which, he was not even aware.) 

You:  That’s pretty lame.

And you’d be right, of course. 

But my being ridiculous aside, I think most of us want to feel like we have some kind of connection to that out of reach person; that we’re one introduction away from fitting in with the cool crowd and living fabulous lives.

This is basically the reason why out of all the very talented and famous NBA stars over the years, the only one I really kept up with was Kobe Bryant. 

Follow the tenuous logic:  Kobe was a rock star athlete at Lower Merion High School in Pennsylvania.  I went to college not far from that high school and knew where it was (though I was long gone by the time he graduated and declared for the NBA draft in 1996.)

But, you know, connections. 

In my (ridiculous) mind, we had some things in common.

And so I kept tabs on him and his career.   

But now that Kobe Bryant is gone, I realize his was a life worth watching well beyond his magical, superhuman feats on the basketball court.

He had issues. 

Much has been made of the Washington Post reporter who was suspended, and then not, for bringing up the 2003 rape allegations against the superstar as his death was being reported.

The timing of the report was deemed disrespectful and inappropriate but the history remains. 

Bryant settled the case and apologized. He played like a force of nature and his fans moved on.  While some celebrities are lucky like that, Bryant seemed to fight hard for redemption.

He went on to build a history-making career founded on a tireless work ethic that honored his God-given talent. He was especially committed to bolstering the profiles of female athletes and their sports. 

His wife stayed with him, and though there would be reported ups and downs and nearly a divorce, they found a way to stay together and thrive.  Bryant became the quintessential family man, the father of four daughters, wholly involved and invested in their lives.  They were, he said, his “princesses.” 

And by many accounts, he developed a rich faith. 

Reports have been pouring out in the wake of his death about his commitment to Christ and the frequency in which he attended mass at his local church.  His parish priest tells of greeting him early Sunday morning as Bryant was leaving the prayer chapel.  He says the two spoke about Bryant’s desire to be confirmed in the Catholic faith just hours before he and his daughter boarded their ill-fated flight.

During a 2015 interview with ESPN, Bryant reflected that he’d like to be remembered as never having wasted time: “I didn't waste a day, and I felt extremely blessed by the God-given talent. At the same time, I didn't take it for granted. If I could be remembered as a person that was born with a lot of talent but did everything he could to try to overachieve and lived everyday as if he was the twelfth guy on the bench. I think that is a very powerful message to have and something that hopefully the players now and later choose to embody as well."

Without a doubt that’s how he’ll be remembered professionally. 

Personally, his story, like most of ours, is more complicated.  He was both sinner and saint. 

He’s someone who apparently was seeking Light well beyond the spotlight, desiring those deep connections.   

Far more than titles and trophies, as he enters eternity, this is what matters most.  

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