On February 24th, twenty thousand mourners filled downtown Los Angeles' Staples Center — “the house that Kobe built” — to celebrate the lives of the 41-year-old Lakers star and his 13-year-old daughter, who were killed alongside seven others in the crash in Calabasas. With tears streaming down his face, Michael Jorden spoke about his “big brother” mentoring relationship with Kobe. Beyoncè sang KO, one of Kobe’s favorites, and his wife Vanessa bravely spoke about her daughter, her husband, and her loss.
Kobe’s life is not the first to be celebrated in a large public way. Princess Diana, Michael Jackson, and John McCain all had funeral services that were shared with large groups of their fans or followers. These very large and very public funerals acknowledge the family’s loss is our loss too. They help the community heal.
We may not have ever had a face to face conversation or sat down to break bread with any of these people, but we loved them. Kobe was a master of his game and it was pure joy to watch him play. He went well beyond just playing basketball and shared his love of the game and impact it had on his life with a whole new generation in his books and his movie. He was larger than life.
His wife and family’s kindness in sharing their celebration of his life, and that of his daughter, with his fans is beautiful. It will help all of us heal. We can only hope knowing this, we were there witnessing tributes to a man who was admired, respected, and loved by so many. Hopefully the healing began then.