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Ada Fisher: Kobe Bryant goes out on top

By Ada Fisher

The shocking deaths of former NBA great Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna in an unfortunate plane crash has so stunned a nation and much of the world that for a moment in time there was a pause to try to comprehend the significance of this. What the Lord has in mind and what we are left to deal with are often hard to discern. But a couple of glaring factoids of prominence stick out.

Bryant was born to a sports gene pool as the son of former NBA caliber player Joe Bryant who raised him in Italy. He was also one of the few young successful athletes who transitioned from high school to the NBA.  He is almost assured a place in the Basketball Hall of Fame regardless of who comes after him as well as considering those who have gone before him. He also spent 20 years on one team, the Los Angeles Lakers of the NBA where he helped secure five championships in which he received two MVP awards. He was called the Black Mamba after a killer snake — such was the nature of his floor game.

Bryant was fluent in English, Italian and Spanish, which gave him an opportunity to speak with several of his colleagues in their language. It also made him somewhat of a renaissance man opening up the international arena for him.

But Bryant took it several steps beyond. He messed up and had to face 2003 charges of rape and sodomy. He didn’t lawyer up but publicly admitted to adultery. He noted his perception of this act in his victim’s mind was not one of consent. He thereby agreed to a settlement of the case. Though this action messed with his brand, he didn’t plea bargain to retain his salary or avoid blame but allowed his victim some semblance of dignity. Such forthrightness may have saved what seemed to him most important — family and honor.

Aware of the shortness of life on the court, Bryant took classes to improve his writing skills because he wanted to become a storyteller. Something stuck because he won a 2015 Academy Award for his Best Animated Short “Dear Basketball.”

He also put his money to work through the
Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation. He was able to finance several Mamba Academies to help young people use basketball to inform their lives not just serve their ambition.

It was his family that he spoke glowingly of and though painful as it may be for his family to lose him and his daughter, Gianna’s light, though gone too soon, glimmers in the love her father had expressed for her and his wife and other daughters. As a supporter of women’s basketball, he saw for his girls the potential for greatness as should we all. Now if they would just figure out how to give them equal pay, we would climb another milestone.

Ada Fisher is a retired physician, former school board member and the N.C. Republican national committeewoman.

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