I watched YouTube of Jordan’s greatness. Kobe Bean Bryant, I remember. Kobe was the Jordan of my generation. It was January, and I remember going into my first-period weight training class as a senior in high school. The TV was on, and we watched the highlights of Kobe scoring 81 points against the Raptors. The same season he scored 60+ points in three quarters. I was a Kobe fan, but I remember rooting against Kobe as he and the Lakers beat my hometown Indiana Pacers to win the first of his five NBA championships. Now, in his death, my memories of Kobe are more than just the five NBA championships, the multiple 50-point games, the highlight reel dunks, but most importantly, I will remember Kobe Bryant the Dad.
After basketball, I saw Kobe courtside with his daughter GiGi. He would be courtside talking and coaching her about the game. It was an image we frequently saw in the months leading up to their untimely death. Little did anyone know that the glimpse we saw of Kobe and his daughter would be something we would only get to see for a limited time. Kobe and GiGi courtside is an image that we will remember forever. It was Kobe Bryant, the Dad, and not the basketball player. I admire Kobe more as a girl’s dad than an NBA Hall of Fame Basketball player.
Kobe Bryant died tragically in a helicopter crash that also took the life of eight other people, including his daughter GiGi. It was a loss for the basketball world and the millions of Laker and Kobe fans around the world. It is unreal to think about sometimes.
My daughter is ten months, and I am enjoying hearing the stories of Kobe Bryant as the Dad. I read a story that sparked the hashtag #GirlsDad. Elle Duncan told the story of meeting Kobe while she was pregnant with her daughter. The segment went viral and sparked the outpour of Dads honoring the bond between them and their daughters. What made the segment powerful was Kobe’s response to her question about having more girls in the family. Kobe’s answer was, “I would have five more girls if I could. I am a girl Dad.”
My first daughter Zuri Reign was born on April 11, 2019. She is my first, and I understand the feeling Kobe described to Elle Duncan. There is something about being a dad to a girl. Since Kobe’s death, I cannot help but to hug my daughter a little tighter and kiss her a little more. Seeing Kobe at the games with his daughter has me excited about when I can do those things with Zuri. I can’t wait to coach her in her sports. Kobe, to me, will be remembered as the Dad that I saw and not the basketball player I remember growing up.
What it means to be a girl dad is being present in the life of your daughter. I want my legacy with my daughter to be more than a hashtag. Kobe was a dad every day and all day. Being a girl dad is about creating memories and sharing something with your daughter. Being a girl dad is about loving the fact you have a girl and doing everything to know that your daughter knows you as a dad.
The sting of Kobe’s untimely death will eventually fade for those outside of his wife and three surviving daughters. What will stick with me for the rest of my life will be what he showed me as a father. What he taught me as a new dad. I am excited about the rest of my life and my time with Zuri Reign.