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Kobe

Jan 27 2020
Photo by
Harry How/Getty Images
Photo by
Harry How/Getty Images
Derek Jeter
The Players' Tribune Founder
Jan 27 2020

All I ever needed to know about Kobe Bryant was this: that throughout our friendship, the most meaningful conversations we had — they were always about family. Put aside one of the all-time great basketball careers for a second. Put aside his famous work ethic, the Mamba mentality, that incredible will to win. I’ll let everyone else tackle that. But when I think of Kobe, I really just end up thinking about those special few personal conversations that we were lucky enough to share together, each time one of us had a new baby daughter. I end up thinking about how, here was this guy who was beyond gifted as an athlete, who was obsessed with being a champion, who was known as an absolute assassin with a ball in his hands. And in the moments I got to spend with him? He didn’t really talk about any of that. He cared much more about being a husband to Vanessa and a dad to his girls. He loved his family — he was his family. That’s what was important.

And that’s the Kobe I’ll remember.

I want to give my deepest condolences to Vanessa and the rest of the Bryant family, and to the families of the other passengers. Tragedies like this have a cruel way of reminding us of what’s important in life: spending time with our loved ones, and being there for them no matter what. Which makes today’s events feel especially cruel — because no one needed less reminding than Kobe. I’ve seen the guy go for 81. I’ve seen him hit all kinds of buzzer beaters. I’ve seen him win gold medals and championship rings. But I’ve still never seen him look as happy, in those big moments on the court, as he looked the other day off of it: with an arm around Gigi, sitting courtside, and just….. talking. Yeah, sure, talking hoops — but you got the feeling in those moments that he would have been content talking about anything.

Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

Kobe just loved being a dad.

And when it comes to his legacy, I really hope we’re able to take the time to remember that as an essential part of it.

Rest in peace to Gianna Bryant. Rest in peace to the other passengers on board.

And rest in peace to Kobe Bryant — who knew that his life was only as important as the love he had for the people in it. Who knew that he was born to play basketball. But it was family over everything.

Derek Jeter
The Players' Tribune Founder