It’s been just a few weeks now since we have lost our beloved Kobe Bryant on an early Sunday morning on January 26, 2020. The impact of his passing has been international with an outpouring of raw emotion, mourning his loss. We watched Kobe grow from a young, brash hooper, to a family man, a professional, an Oscar award winning producer, and a pillar of our community. The murals and memorial services span the world from Manila, Philippines to Milan, Italy and back to Los Angeles where Kobe was the sun of the city. We are all saddened, particularly the Black community, who lost their shining star.

Trying my best to cope with Kobe’s passing led me to watch countless highlight videos, news stories, and interviews. One particular video impacted me to the point of tears. It was a video of Kobe with a young fan whose mother was fighting cancer. Kobe was so genuine, he wished the young man’s mother well, he prayed for her, and inspired her to fight to overcome cancer. As I tried unsuccessfully to hold back my tears, I wondered out loud, “Why are we crying over a man so few of us has ever met?” Suddenly I understood. We all felt connected to Kobe in some way. He was our big brother, our friend, our son, our superhero. The power to connect with people on a hyper authentic level was Bryant’s greatest skill. We all feel the loss of someone so genuine in a time of social media sycophants and burner Twitter accounts.

Bryant’s ability to connect isn’t lost on a community that has its own issues communicating honestly with one another. Imagine the positivity we could permeate throughout our community if we connected with one another the way Kobe connected with everyone.

If Kobe left us with anything, it was his superpower of connection. Use Bryant’s example of connecting with your family, friends, and community to be a better father, husband, businessman, and neighbor. Use Kobe’s Mamba mentality to attack your relationships with honesty, accountability, and love. Use Kobe’s undying will to strengthen your communities through communication and dialogue. Be genuine with the people you interact with. Respect yourself and others. Actively challenge yourself and the world around you to be the best version of ourselves. If we can use this tragedy to connect, we would in fact honor Kobe in the best possible way. We miss you Kobe! Until the day we can connect. 

Ali R. Milliner, fan and family man.