Heroes come and go, but legends are forever.

Mohamed Eltayeb 

Mohamed Eltayeb remembers and reflects on Kobe Bryant’s legacy a year after his untimely and tragic death in a raw, emotional written tribute. 

Today is dedicated to Kobe Bean Bryant, a once in a lifetime athlete, an inspiring father figure, and most of all, a legend that the world will truly never forget. Heroes come and go, but legends are forever. Rest in peace to Gianna Bryant, Payton Chester, Sarah Chester, Alyssa Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, John Altobelli, Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan. 

The seven stages of grief

Kobe’s death tore me up. It broke me down in ways that, at the moment, I didn’t understand. The untimely loss has forever altered my soul and my existence. I remember that day as if it was yesterday. I have tried to forget that day since then, forget the pain, the hatred, the confusion I had towards God. But my soul won’t allow me to forget, it won’t even allow me to at least pretend to forget, and I thought they said the brain block memories to protect from trauma. Today, however, I choose to remember the pain, the hatred, the confusion for one reason only, to remember the legacy Kobe Bryant left for us all.

One year ago, today, my world came to a still. I was thousands of miles away from my hometown friends and family. Studying overseas in Qatar when I first heard the news. First came the disbelief; there was no way Kobe would just die in an accident; it had to be fake news. I kept telling that to my friend who told me the story; as I quickly refreshed my Twitter timeline, confident that the headline would be debunked in any second, confident that the Black Mamba was alive and well. But deep down, I knew something was wrong, I knew that my world was going to change forever.

The room was silent; my body grew numb as it became clear that the news was true. My mind fell into an abyss. Denial came second. I sat still, closed my eyes, and asked God to wake me up from this nightmare, begging to wake up into a world where Kobe lives. I opened my eyes to the face of my friend, looking at me for a response. He’s always known I was a Kobe fan; I would preach to him on how his game is like a tale that came true. Watching Kobe play was like seeing perfection; no feeling on Earth came close to it.

Anger followed; I locked myself into my room, shut my phone, and yelled at God. Why? How could you do this? Why would you do this? I was enraged; I couldn’t even recognize myself, nor even explain my actions, but It didn’t matter. I just wanted to make sense of it all. To me, Kobe was more than just an athlete; he was a reminder to be the best version of one’s self. I looked at Kobe and saw a man that was an embodiment of what I want to be. He lived by a code, a code that I try to instill each and every day of my life. A code that is continuing to make me the man I am today. 

I looked up and pleaded on my knees to take me instead. Why do the good ones die young? Why take him? Why now? I sat in my room questioning, I’ve been blessed in my life not to come across the death of close ones, but losing Kobe, brought feelings I could never think of having. If you personally know me, you know that illustrating my feelings is difficult, but I let it all out on that day. I entered that room one person and would eventually leave another person.

After the bargaining, came the depression. Tears came down like rain; I wasn’t shy about it either as I cried out loud. I had no shame, no reason to care for anything. I craved for a familiar voice to bring me comfort, a voice to bring me peace. I called my mother, barely able to collect myself, but she quickly understood. She didn’t even know his full name, but she didn’t have to because she knew who he was to me. I was fortunate enough to have parents that cared for me beyond school and health. When Kobe had one of his last games in my city of Denver, I had to be there even if it would mean I would watch from nosebleed seats. When it came to his last game, I made it my mission that the entire family witnessed his historic 60-point deliverance. After 20 seasons of dedication to the game, I had to make peace that Kobe was human and had other responsibilities to care for. He left his fans, Dear Basketball, as a testimony to the end of his basketball career and the beginning of something new. 

My mother’s advice was to pray, and that’s exactly what I did. It was the only thing that made sense to do. I didn’t want to do anything but pray that the next several weeks, months made the pain go away. I knew the rest of the world was hurting, and knowing that I wasn’t the only one made me feel vulnerable but safe. I prayed for his family, prayed for the basketball community, prayed for better days.

I would leave my room several days after, still hurting but able to live a little bit of my life. I made my peace, and I was either going to leave that room a better man or someone far off. I chose to be better because that’s what Kobe would want us to do. I took a moment to cherish those close to me and remove the negativity that I had towards others and replace it with forgiveness. From that moment on, I knew it would be a challenge to remember Kobe, but I chose to live through his legacy and treasure who he was on and off the court. Death comes to us all.

Death comes to us all.

Death indeed comes to us all. 2020 was evident in reminding us of that. Whether you’re famous or “nameless,” we all die in the same dirt. Kobe left us with record-breaking stats, game-winning shots, and fearlessness to win. He also left us a philosophy, one that has inspired not just athletes but competitors in any industry to never stop short from any dream. That philosophy has bettered my worst days and best days and will continue to till the day I leave this earth.

As we continue to live in a demanding and unpredictable world, we can remember the lessons we learned from the Black Mamba to overcome any obstacle we may face, either together or alone. So, whatever we may encounter in this new year, let us remember that we are the masters of our fate; we are the captains of our soul. The cold truth is that death indeed comes to us all, but we can see that as a motivating factor to live in the moment and make each day count. In a world where you can be anything, be kind, be good. Spread love, share the love. Give reassurance without having it be asked, hold your friends accountable to a greater degree. Protect your energy because not everyone wishes you well. Prioritize yourself and your dreams because you come first.

The Black Mamba may not be with us anymore, but his legacy lives through us all. I may have made my peace with his death, but there will always be a pain knowing that his life was cut short from his family, his friends, and his own dreams. But I thank God for allowing me, us, and the world to experience such a remarkable character that rarely comes to every generation. In no way can I conclude this piece that gives justice to Kobe Bryant’s legacy; all I can give is my appreciation. Thank you for giving us more than we asked, more than we deserve. I love you now and forever.

“Everything negative – pressure, challenges – is all an opportunity for me to rise.”

Kobe bean bryant

To contact Mohamed Eltayeb, you can reach him through Twitter or send him an email at therealeltayeb@gmail.com

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