I taught “Dear Basketball” to my class yesterday
As a homage to you, a way of teaching poetic elements, and my students loved it.
I never met you or saw you play live. You were always that person on TV.
The one who would dare to try the toughest midrange shots, with two hands in your face.
The one who would dare to take that last shot and cherish the moment.
When I heard that you and Gianna died in the helicopter crash,
It felt like a piece of me was missing.
It felt like a huge figure and icon was missing.
I didn’t always cheer for you because A.I. was my favorite player.
But while I didn’t cheer for you, I always respected you.
I respected you most in the final years of your career.
Even when a lot of players would have quit, you refused.
Even when a lot of players would have thrown in the towel after injury after injury, you refused.
The accolades and wins didn’t come with the end of your career — but you still showed up.
That was passion.
That was dedication.
A large part of me wishes I could live up to your myth and legend in my every day life.
You taught me to be tough. You taught me to never back down, to never give up.
The clips replay in my head.
The alley-oop to Shaq against Portland.
The free throws to go from 79 to 81 points against Toronto.
Two buzzer beaters in a single game against Phoenix.
The contested buzzer beater in Dwyane Wade’s face.
60 points in your final game.
But it wasn’t the accolades or the stats — it was your deep devotion to others.
You always kept growing and improving, from the player I hated as a kid to the man I deeply respected when you retired.
I felt like I grew up with you. Every step of the way, you were in some way there, in some way present, in some way part of the conversation.
Now, you no longer are.
I hope you’re smiling from above.
Thank you, Kobe.