Mark Rich, our Editing and Operations Manager here at Knup Sports and Knup Solutions wrote this in regards to his hero, Kobe Bryant. We are proud of Mark and his writing and wanted to share for you all:
I lost a hero today.
Although he was a decade younger than me, I did have a hero in Kobe Bryant. We all want to be inspired, and I’ve gained a lot of inspiration in my life from my sports heroes. Kobe was one of those heroes.
His ability on the basketball court to score, shoot, defend, pass, anything, was legendary. He helped raise my favorite basketball franchise from the dead. And he was electric in everything he did on the court.
He wasn’t perfect – far from it. But as we’ve all learned over the years, a great number of our heroes aren’t perfect. I’ve been conflicted since the time it happened about his sexual assault accusations in Colorado. No matter if he committed a crime or not, he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing as a married man. But he also seemed to grow from that. He and his wife were able to make things right, having four children and staying together until his death.
And, when he was on the basketball court, he was outstanding. He wasn’t always the greatest teammate – but you could see him grow into that role. Learning. Maturing. That’s what we want from our heroes, isn’t it? Not that they are completely ready-made for our adoration right from the start and never improve. Rocky Balboa didn’t start as the heavyweight champion. He had to fight for it. He had to grow as a person and a fighter. And that’s what Kobe did over the years.
He was head-strong, but he was determined. He had a will to win and improve that few have. I was moved by a documentary on him fighting back from injury, how he would be at Staples Center in the wee hours of the morning, shooting by himself, working hard to get back. Ironically, that documentary showed him getting to Staples Center by helicopter.
Much like Magic Johnson had shown a generation before, Bryant showed that you should never give up. Keep fighting. That hard work will get you through in the end.
Kobe Bryant Retires
And then he retired, and we got to see an even better side of him. Being an elder statesman for the game – both for men and women. Being a fan and supporter of soccer, the sport he first loved. Doing what he could to help others raise their games — or awareness of the game — through sage advice, teaming with ESPN for a documentary series to point out the nuances of the game, or just being a presence that some players aren’t when they retire.
He became interested in making documentaries. He wrote a best-selling children’s book. He showed up at events, especially those like the women’s Final Four, that weren’t in the biggest spotlight. This was where I could relate to him even more. Because it was obvious that women’s sports became a focus to him because of his daughters, and that resonated with me.
If anything, in his post-basketball life, he became more accessible. Going on Ridiculousness and late-night shows. He embraced doing the things that he didn’t have time for when his basketball game was his No. 1 focus.
And now he’s gone. Which saddens me less because of the memories of his play — though those are certainly great — but for what we, the world, are going to miss seeing from him. He had a voice and he was going to use it. He was going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer this fall, and I was already looking forward to him getting his due at the Hall of Fame ceremony.
And his daughter, Gigi, who passed with him, was already showing the ability and attitude of her father in regards to the basketball court. We miss seeing all of her potential fulfilled.
When you’re young, you believe your heroes are going to live forever. As you grow older, you realize that they, too, are growing older and aren’t what they used to be, and someday will pass on. But when someone who has been a part of your life for over 20 years and become someone who inspires you to be a better you is taken so quickly, so early, it’s all the more heartbreaking.