The tragic death of former basketball star Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and six of Bryant’s family friends last month was certainly one of the most jarring news stories of this year. Not only did Bryant leave a legacy as one of professional basketball’s greatest all-time players, but he had also become an ambassador for the game itself and a revered icon by fans, aspiring athletes and those who appreciate human greatness.
The impact of Kobe Bryant’s death created a historic and impressionable public dialogue. In fact, the news of Bryant’s death/legacy was one of the most wide-reaching stories in the existence of the social media era (wrote writer/researcher Neal Rothschild from Axios).
In Neal Rothschild’s analysis, he reported that social-media interactions from stories written about Bryant’s death (likes, shares and comments) were more than those stemming from news about the coronavirus, President Trump’s impeachment, the Super Bowl game, the Democratic Party Iowa caucuses and the Grammy Awards combined.
While the legacy of Bryant, as a legendary player and ambassador for basketball, is perhaps most etched with his individual achievements, what cannot be lost was his impact as a father. From media reports and anecdotes of close friends and family, it seemed that Bryant truly had a special relationship with his daughter Gianna, who also perished in the helicopter crash.
A well-known video of Kobe and Gianna watching a basketball game last year together may have illustrated their special relationship the best. Sitting courtside, Kobe is seen talking to Gianna, laughing, coaching her up and enjoying his time alongside her. The now-viral video/photo exemplifies the power from the bonds created within a father-daughter relationship.
In a recent New York Times article about Kobe and Gianna, former NBA player Jason Terry gave a telling quote, shedding more light on the happy and bright father-daughter pair shown in the photo above, “It was just amazing to see Kobe and Gigi interact, not only as father and daughter but as coach and player,” Terry said. “She had his mannerisms. She had the same competitive drive.”
Like Kobe, Gianna was also an inspiring basketball player and a very good one at that. Learning about Kobe and his daughter’s relationship makes the tragedies of their deaths even harder to bear. It also makes me think about the special bond and relationship I had with my own father.
My daddy wasn’t a famous athlete like Kobe Bryant, but he was a hard-working, kind and thoughtful man who was the manager of a car dealership in my hometown of Seminole, Texas. Some of my favorite days spending time with him were on Saturday mornings when I would sit quietly in his office while he spoke to customers.
On one occasion, I learned a valuable lesson from my daddy about respect. A farmer had come to pay for a car, and I couldn’t help but comment about the man’s unforgettable smell. Daddy’s response to my reaction created a life-long memory and turned into an important personal lesson.
“Tyra,” daddy said, “That farmer makes his money by growing cotton, maize and raising animals. The smell came from the manure in his barnyard where he raises cows, feeds the chickens and cleans out the manure in his barnyard and gathers eggs from the hen house. His work is a lot like your grandfather’s, PaPa. He’s my customer and friend. We treat everyone with respect and kindness in the shop.”
Daddy taught me to treat everyone, all members of the community, with immense respect. He was first class, and I adored him. His kindness and ability to teach me important lessons, like this one, helped fuel our special father-daughter bond.
Witnessing Kobe and Gianna’s relationship end too soon is a tragedy. But I hope that the pure joy and beauty of their interactions with each other will serve as a model for fathers everywhere. It’s important for young fathers to spend more time with their daughters and seek to be their positive-minded role models in life.
What special memories have you forged with your daughters? In what ways can we strengthen our relationships with our children?
© 2020 Tyra Manning