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January 29, 2020

Anyone who knows me will tell you I am a sports fanatic. I do not, however worship sports or the athletes that play. I respect them, the drive and the hard work it takes to compete at the highest level. Sports, like music, has a way of bring people together, igniting ones drive and helping us heal. Look at how many people get together on Super Bowl Sunday. I fell in love with sports at 10 years old during the 1991 World Series. Since those days, I have seen how sports can help heal not only individuals but this great nation as well.

Do you remember post 9/11?

Sports both in U.S and around the world helped us heal. Who remembers Mike Piazza’s 9/11 home run? The Met’s return to New York on September 21, 2001. That night, Piazza hit a two run shot in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Met’s went on to beat the Braves 3-2 that night; which then began the healing process for New York and the nation.

What about Super Bowl XXXVI?

The St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots played less than five months after 9/11. Tom Brady won his 1st Super Bowl by beating the Rams and “The Greatest Show on Turf”. The Patriots won that first Super Bowl after 9/11. This country was healing and the Patriots win in the Louisiana Super dome that night reminded us that we are a nation of Patriots.

We would see the Super Dome play another key role in healing a mere 4 1/2 years later.

The Super dome was damaged during Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. It served as shelter to thousands who were displaced by the storm. It also served as a beacon of future hope for the city of New Orleans. The damage to the Super dome was fixed and the Saints played their first home game after Katrina on September 26, 2006. The Saints won that game 23-3,; infamously becoming known for Steve Gleason’s blocked punt. That night helped a city heal from one of the most devastating storms we have ever seen.

As sport fans, we love to see and live these feel good stories as they give us drive and ambition to follow ours dreams. Unfortunately, sports can also have its own tragedies. These moments teach us many life lessons and help us to realize how blessed we are. Steve Gleason made one of the most iconic plays in the history of Saints football. That was not the end of his story. He was diagnosed with ALS ( Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 2011. He continues to be an inspiration to those battling numerous types of illness and disease.

As fans we respect athletes not for their fame but rather their drive. It takes very determined individuals to make it to the professional level in sports. This level of hard work and dedication starts at a young age and continues throughout the school years and beyond. My own personal drive comes, in part, from seeing athletes strive to reach their dreams and not letting anything get in their way.

This leads me to Kobe…

Kobe Bryant
Gianna Bryant
John Altobelli
Keri Altobelli
Alyssa Altobelli
Sarah Chester
Peyton Chester
Christina Mauser
Ara Zobayan

They all died heading to do something they love or doing the very thing they loved. Husbands, wives, son’s, daughters, grand-children and more were lost this week. I do not believe we should just dismiss the death of a celebrity just based on their statue. Kobe was a monumental figure not only for the game of basketball but also for those who roll up their sleeves and pursue their dream. Sure, he made his mistakes like we all do because he was human. Kobe however made his biggest impact off the court. He loved his wife and kids and we could all learn a little something about his laser focus when it came to his family.

At some point, we have all followed celebrities and their lives. We all have our favorites that have in some way made their mark on our own lives. The most important thing to remember s that they too are human. They have families and those who have invested in and loved them. We cannot get so blinded by their fame that we forget to show grace in their times of tragedy. Kobe’s legacy will live on and those whose lives he touched will find strength through the pain.

Sunday afternoon after the news of the crash had broke, my boys naturally wanted to go play basketball. We went to the gym and the courts were occupied. We then drove by two separate courts near our house with the same outcome. The memories of Kobe were playing out on courts all over the world. Yes, he was a celebrity but he was also a role model to both kids and adults. That’s what those memories do for us all. Whether we remember someone’s greatness on a court, field, racetrack or beyond, their memories give us all the drive to reach for the stars.

Thank you Kobe for all the memories on the court as well as the inspiration off the court. I pray for comfort to all the families affected not only by this tragedy but the many others that happen every moment.

“I have nothing in common with lazy people who blame others for their lack of success. Great things come from hard work and perseverance. No excuses.”

Kobe Bryant

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