I was mad at Kobe for a long time, and it wasn't until the shock and pain of his sudden and unexpected loss today that made me realize why. Sure, he was beloved by the world; but for Angelenos like myself, especially those of us who grew up watching him, going to Lakers games at the Staple Center, particularly in the Shaq and Kobe Dream Team days, he was our family. So many of my childhood memories involve nights, days, and Christmases at The Staple Center. Whenever we sat by the Lakers tunnel entrance, we'd lean over the rails trying to high-five the players as the came out of the tunnel or went back in it. And of course, if Kobe high-fived you, it was like getting the golden ticket. There's not a lot I can say that everyone else isn't already saying as we remember our Mamba. He was an inspiration beyond the court. I loved that he also loved football (soccer), and also spoke other languages. When I was in Milan, the only reason I wanted to visit AC Milan's stadium was because I knew he loved the team. His pride in and love for his family was undeniable. So, I just want to say thank you, Kobe, for all the memories, for being part of our family; and thank you to your family for sharing you with us. Praying for all the Bryants, as well as the other families affected by today's tragedy. I also want to extend a hug to my fellow Lakers Nation Angelenos, because I know this cuts deep for all of us.
It still feels unreal.