by KRISTOFER PURNELL
It was hard to say good-bye to Kobe Bryant when he finally turned his shoes in after witnessing 20 years of his greatness in the NBA—and now the world bids an even harder farewell.
Basketball fans around the world were struck by the devastating news that the Los Angeles Lakers legend died in a helicopter crash, which claimed the lives of eight others including his 13-year-old daughter Gianna. Kobe was only 41 years old, and retired from basketball just four years ago.
During his swansong season, Kobe shared a poem he had written entitled Dear Basketball, an emotional letter for the sport he had loved since he was six years old. In the poem, Kobe writes how his love for the game started when he made imaginary game-winning shots using his father’s rolled-up socks. From then the young boy who would become a five-time NBA champion and 2008 Most Valuable Player endured all the struggles, hustles, and challenges, creating the player the world would know as The Black Mamba.
In 2017, Kobe’s poem was made into an animated short film, also called Dear Basketball, by veteran Disney animator Glen Keane. Kobe himself provided the narration for the poem, making the heartfelt words accompanying the stellar pencil-drawn animation even more touching. The short film flits between Kobe’s relationship with basketball as an aspiring boy and his biggest moments in the NBA, and it received so much acclaim that it won Kobe and Glen the Best Animated Short Film at the 90th Academy Awards.
There is a portion in Dear Basketball that Kobe writes.
My heart can take the pounding
My mind can handle the grind
But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.
And that’s OK.
I’m ready to let you go.
I want you to know now
So we both can savor every moment we have left together.
The good and the bad.
We have given each other
All that we have.
Kobe indeed gave everything he had and we savored every moment we had with him. Though it will be a while before everyone is ready to let go, it is time to say goodbye once more.
For the very last time, Mamba Out.