Lessons From the Kobe Bryant Tragedy

On the importance of carpe diem and proper timing.

Posted Jan 27, 2020

Wikimedia Commons
Kobe Bryant
Source: Wikimedia Commons

As is true of most people who heard the news yesterday, I was left in disbelief upon hearing of the tragedy that befell Kobe Bryant, his young daughter, and seven other individuals, all of whom perished in a helicopter crash on their way to his daughter’s basketball game.  

As I’ve explained elsewhere, celebrities trick our brains into thinking that they are part of our extended family. They become a recurring feature in our lives, and this was certainly the case with Kobe given his long and exceptionally successful NBA career. To millions of fans, iconic athletes become immortal larger-than-life heroes. The reality of life, though, is a lot crueler, as one never knows what lurks behind the corner.

Tragedy has a way of imparting important life lessons, and with that in mind, I’d like to share two such insights stemming from yesterday’s calamity. 

1. This is what I posted yesterday on my social media upon hearing the news: “The tragic crash today that took the life of five [nine] people including Kobe Bryant and his young daughter should remind us that life is precious and ephemeral. Enjoy every second, do good, have fun, be kind, love those worthy of your love, be productive, and abide to carpe diem!” To use a popular aphorism, don’t sweat the small stuff. 

2. Decent and humane people understand the importance of timing and context. I saw numerous “blue-checked” people on Twitter refer to Kobe’s supposed marital indiscretions and rape accusation case, as a means of reminding the world that he was hardly an angel. While I am hardly a diehard Kobe fan, I was left dumbfounded. The man’s body was likely still smoldering at the crash site; he had just perished along with his daughter whilst en route to her basketball match. And yet, people chose this moment to attack him. They could not grant his family a moment of respectful respite, and instead chose a moment of inestimable pain to soil his memory

I am hardly suggesting that a man’s misdeeds should be ignored in order to protect his legacy. Timing, though, is everything. If we are good and decent human beings, perhaps we could grant people the necessary time period to grieve. Put yourself in the position of his wife and his three remaining children. Engage your theory of mind.

Grab life by its horns, enjoy the ride, but please always be mindful of our common humanity.