It isn’t fair.
You were only 41. Only 4 years out of the game. You had barely begun changing the lives of millions in your second career. You hadn’t even seen your youngest daughter take her first steps, hadn’t even seen your oldest make her college decision. You hadn’t given the world the Hall of Fame speech we were all dying to hear. There was so much yet to come, so much more you had to offer us all, so many amazing things that we were all just expecting from you, and we never realized that we were taking greatness for granted because you had made us used to it.
But that’s the idea behind the Mamba Mentality, isn’t it? It isn’t about what’s fair and making excuses, it’s about getting up and doing it now. Complacency and procrastination don’t exist in the Mamba Mentality — only initiative and determination. Why do it tomorrow when you can do it now? Why go home unsatisfied and blame it on a bad workout or a bad day when you can fix it all right now? Why live life thinking about what could go wrong when you could go out there and make sure it goes right? The Mamba Mentality isn’t just a mindset, it’s a lifestyle. Be grateful today that you CAN do it, don’t wait for tomorrow when you might not be able to.
As I look back on how we got to this point, I see your influence everywhere in my life, as I’m sure millions do too. You made this die-hard Celtics fan respect you when you hit those free throws on a torn Achilles. You made sure that my TV was tuned into your legendary final game rather than the 73-9 season. You were my go to 4 letter combination, my inspiration for every paper ball I threw into the garbage. You made me so happy when you lost in 2008, and then you tore my heart out in 2010. You were the reason my wall had purple and gold peeking out the corners when the rest of it was green. Dear Basketball became a short I memorized, not because you won an Oscar on your first try, but because it touched my heart. You were my idol, and that’s how I know you’ll never die.
I wish there was a way for you to see the effect you had on the world. Millions of people have experienced the same emotions within the last week as I have — shocked when we heard the news, hoping that the whole thing was a lie, we’ve all shed a few tears thinking about Gigi and you and watching all the videos, and we’ve all been incredibly grateful that we got to live at the same time as you. All of the tributes don’t even come close to showing you how much you meant to us. Every team took 24 and 8 second violations for you, players sat out of their games, while others lit up the scoreboard in your honor. Everyone was finding their own way to show you what you meant. Within an hour after the news was confirmed, students here at CMU were already dedicated on making you a part of its historical fence. And although all of us would do anything to have you back, I think we all really just wish we could say one thing.
Thank you, Kobe.
Thank you for showing the world that if you go out there and you put the work in, you will succeed. Thank you for making us believe in the impossible, and for making us numb to legendary moments. Thank you for being an idol to millions of people, for being the one person we could turn to for stability when nothing else seemed guaranteed. Thank you for being you, because you’re the only one that could do it.
I know that it won’t be easy, but the Mamba Mentality will keep all of us going. And we’ll all find comfort in the fact that you’re up there somewhere, redefining greatness, with the ball in your hand, and five seconds on the clock . . .
– Meet Wadhwa