Remembering Kobe

“I can’t believe it,” my coworker messaged me on Instagram late Sunday morning along with the link of the TMZ story of Kobe dying in a helicopter crash.

I was in Vegas with my cousin Gina, a late celebration for her birthday. We were getting ready to head out for the Goldwell Open Air Museum out in the ghost town of Rhyolite just miles from Death Valley National Park late Sunday morning. We were eating our chicken we picked up fron Hattie B’s Nashville Chicken.

I automatically googled Kobe Bryant since I really don’t trust the scumbag Harvey Levin and saw to my dismay that it was true. I didn’t know how to react. I told Gina about it and continued to eat.

Throughout the two-hour ride to the ghost town, I tried to keep the news away. Gina would give me updates as she saw them, but that was about it. I was not inundated with the 24-7 coverage assault which made not thinking about it okay.

But after dinner when we got back to the room, I turned on ESPN on the tv and KCAL9 on my laptop and it hit me. I did start to tear up while watching the moving impromptu tributes Angelenos made.

Why am I affected by this so much?

Kobe was not an easy guy to like throughout his career. Most infamously of course was his sexual assault of a 19-year old woman in Colorado. Despite knowing this, how am I having so much feelz for this man?

I then remembered the statement he made after his criminal case was dismissed but before his civil case was settled. It really was unlike anything we have ever seen.

First, I want to apologize directly to the young woman involved in this incident. I want to apologize to her for my behavior that night and for the consequences she has suffered in the past year. Although this year has been incredibly difficult for me personally, I can only imagine the pain she has had to endure. I also want to apologize to her parents and family members, and to my family and friends and supporters, and to the citizens of Eagle, Colorado. I also want to make it clear that I do not question the motives of this young woman. No money has been paid to this woman. She has agreed that this statement will not be used against me in the civil case. Although I truly believe this encounter between us was consensual, I recognize now that she did not and does not view this incident the same way I did. After months of reviewing discovery, listening to her attorney, and even her testimony in person, I now understand how she feels that she did not consent to this encounter. I issue this statement today fully aware that while one part of this case ends today, another remains. I understand that the civil case against me will go forward. That part of this case will be decided by and between the parties directly involved in the incident and will no longer be a financial or emotional drain on the citizens of the state of Colorado.

Here we have Kobe basically admitting what he did. We get none of this from Harvey Weinstein, from Ben Roethlisberger, from the Steubenville football team. But Kobe realized how wrong he was — that always stuck with me. He was able to see past his ego, his masculinity that taught him a woman’s body is not her own.

I think what LA, and what I, identified with Kobe so much is all of his flaws. That despite that, he did try to be the best person he could be. That is all we can do.

We witnessed this for 20 years while he entertained us on the hardwood, winning championships, enduring losing seasons, saying he’d rather play on Pluto than with the Lakers during those turbulent post-Shaq years. We watched the 81 points, the 60 in his final game, him willing the team through Game 7 of the 2010 Finals against Boston despite having a horrible shooting night.

He made us feel great, feel shitty, feel angry, feel in awe of his majesty, whatever. He made us feel something.