Instagram: @VanessaBryant / @KobeBryant
When God willed the Earth into existence, He created mankind for his companionship. Since creation, the purpose of man is to be in union with God’s will and find fellowship with Him. God’s love for mankind is so intense that he gave us free will so that our relationship with Him could be as pure as a man’s love is for his wife.
While our free will is the greatest determinant of love, it is also one of our greatest downfalls. Tempted by Satan who came to them in the form of a serpent, Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s will and ate the forbidden fruit. This defining moment opened the world to sin and pushed mankind further from God’s glory.
Since God is righteous and the absolute measure of perfection, the universe requires justice for there to be order, just as a man needs food and water to breathe life. When Adam and Eve brought sin into the world, they brought a necessary punishment upon mankind for our disobedience against our Creator. Sin separated mankind from God and put us at odds with our one true purpose which was to be united with Him, since a just universe demands payment for our crimes.
But God is merciful and desires for all of mankind to join His kingdom, which is why He sent His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to suffer our punishment for us on the cross. Fully man and fully God, Christ was the embodiment of perfection. As such, a perfect universe would never need to punish a spirit that is already perfect. Fulfilling his prophecy, Christ dedicated His life on Earth to charity, good works, and an eternal devotion to God. He paid the ultimate sacrifice on the cross and died an unjust death at the hands of his Roman persecutors.
A man who began His journey with 12 followers now has more than 2 billion across the globe today, leaving a far bigger impact on the world than anyone else to walk the Earth. Though He no longer walks the Earth as a man, Christ’s legacy is everlasting. Christ continues to communicate with us daily through the power of the Holy Spirit, through his Holy Bible, through his Church, and through mankind, leaving us an imperative message that the lives we live now will not only have an impact on our destiny, but an impact on future generations to come.
Christ’s sacrifice made it possible for mankind to be reunited with the Lord and attain absolution for even our gravest of sins, since our punishment has already been paid. Since our ultimate purpose in life is to live in unity with our Holy Father, we must humbly accept Christ into our lives and lead others to Him as well. Our purpose today is to be guided by the Holy Spirit and let Christ be seen in our own lives and legacies.
Recently, NBA superstar Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others passed away after a tragic helicopter accident in California. The death of a man revered by millions shocked the world, leaving so many in awe that he lost his life at the young age of 41, and in the company of his 13-year old daughter. Bryant made a living on the basketball court and led the Los Angeles Lakers to five NBA titles during the course of his 20-year career. As the world mourns the loss of Bryant, he is now being remembered for the man he was, rather than the game he played.
Bryant grew up a Roman Catholic and died just hours after receiving communion with his daughter at Our Lady Queen of Angels’ 7am mass. Bryant was a family man who reportedly purchased his helicopter to spend more time with his family, instead of spending it sitting in the horrendous LA traffic. His devotion to his family and his faith is now inspiring the millions that mourn him, as old interviews and stories from those who knew Bryant personally have come to light.
While some online have belittled Bryant as a do-nothing that merely dribbled a basketball for a living, Bryant’s purpose in life was worth so much more than just the game of basketball. Kobe Bryant took his job seriously and wanted to the best player in all the NBA. He didn’t just win five championships out of pure luck, but because he was the first one in the gym and the last one out. He won five championships because he was a principled man of faith that had the type of work ethics that every employer dreams of his workers having.
As a basketball player, Kobe isn’t remembered for his championships so much as he’s remembered for the effort it took to win them. He retired from the game of basketball in 2016 but could have walked away years earlier due to injuries. Among the injuries he sustained in the later part of his career include a torn achilles tendon, a fracture in his knee, a torn rotator cuff, and a calf injury in his final season. Bryant persevered through his injuries for one epic finale to his NBA career, scoring 60 points as he walked off the Staples Center floor for the last time.
Bryant’s acumen on the court inspired a whole generation of basketball players and left an imprint like none other on the game. But what would a Hollywood star’s career be if there weren’t also a bit of controversy to come with it?
In 2003, Bryant was accused of rape and subsequently arrested. These allegations brought Bryant to his lowest point in life, ruined his reputation, lost him sponsors, and damaged his marriage with his wife Vanessa. Bryant credits his Catholic faith for getting him through these dark times. After expressing fear that he would go to jail over something he did not do, Bryant once said the turning point in his life was when a priest looked at him and said, “God’s not going to give you anything you can’t handle, and it’s in his hands now. This is something you can’t control. So let it go.” The charges against Bryant were dropped a year later when his accuser refused to testify in court, and his reputation began to recover.
Bryant echoed these same sentiments two years later in an interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith. After Bryant told Smith that “God is great”, Smith asked the basketball legend, “Everybody knows that, but the way you know it now, did you know it before that incident?” Bryant answered, “You can know it all you want, but until you got to pick up that cross that you can’t carry, and He picks it up for you and carries you and the cross, then you know.”
Kobe Bryant from an interview in 2006- “Until you got to pick up that cross that you can’t carry, and He picks it up for you and carries you and the cross, then you know”. pic.twitter.com/iJrFXjpVMP— Greg Laurie (@greglaurie) January 28, 2020
Kobe’s witness to the truth shows how he took the opportunities given to him to give glory to God and inspire the millions of fans that looked up to him to do the same, and mimic his work ethics. While other athletes use their fame to live prideful lives of lust, greed, and gluttony, Bryant chose to use his to promote his Catholic values of faith, family, forgiveness, and humility. In fact, in his final season in the NBA, Bryant requested that “opposing teams do not present him with gifts or hold any on-court ceremonies”, saying that he preferred to hear boos over cheers. Bryant never wanted his final season to be an excuse to give up on the competitive nature of the game, and never wanted to wane on the work ethic that got him to where he was – something he liked to call the Mamba Mentality. And while an athlete of his magnitude would surely want to raise a son to follow in his footsteps in the NBA, Bryant and his wife Vanessa gave birth to four daughters instead. Bryant had no remorse over never having a son and always expressed extreme gratitude for his daughters, calling himself a “girl dad”.
In 2006, Bryant and his wife created the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation, a charity geared towards “helping young people in need, encouraging the development of physical and social skills through sports and assisting the homeless”. Bryant was also known for his contributions to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club of America, the After School All-Stars, and Aid Still Required, as well as many other non-profit organizations. According to TheUndefeated.com, Bryant also “participated in the league’s NBA Cares initiatives, where he helped build homes and basketball courts, stocked food pantries and supported reading initiatives.” Fighting homelessness and helping youths to be educated and well-rounded were important initiatives to Bryant, and numerous stories of Bryant’s charitable heart have made waves on social media since his passing.
One month ago, a bystander recorded a video of Kobe Bryant stepping out of his car to help direct traffic and comfort the victims of an automobile accident in Newport Beach, California.
A month ago in Newport Beach Kobe witnessed a major accident and stayed to comfort victims and redirect traffic until help arrived— Boosky (@sheabooskyy) January 26, 2020
Mamba Mentality, forever ? #8 #24 pic.twitter.com/wewykSn5J0
A woman from Phoenix shared a personal story about Kobe Bryant that has also gone viral online, in which Bryant visited a dying 5 year old “under a cloak of secrecy”, giving the boy the most memorable day of his life. Before the child sadly passed away a week later, Bryant reportedly offered to do all that he could to help the boy with his situation.
Wow wow wow! pic.twitter.com/xyXXzyUqxj— #Truthbetold (@truemira) January 28, 2020
These are the stories that Kobe Bryant will be remembered by and why he played the game of basketball as hard as he did. If Kobe never channeled his Mamba Mentality on the court, the world would not have heard about his alluring stories off the court that have inspired so many.
He may not walk this Earth with us any longer, but the legacy that Kobe Bryant left behind will always be with us. Kobe’s legacy shows us how the Holy Spirit is alive in each and every one of us, and how Christ can turn ordinary men into extraordinary purveyors of truth, justice, and faithfulness. Kobe Bryant was a 17-year old kid when he was drafted into the NBA in 1996, and the Lord helped Kobe use his talents to bring glory to God’s will.
Even as she grieves the tremendous loss of her husband and daughter, Vanessa Bryant’s first public statement since their passing asked fans to donate to a fund she created to help support the other families who lost loved ones on that helicopter. If you wish to donate, you can visit mambaonthree.org.
I pray that the sudden passing of Bryant will shed light on the purpose of our own lives and help each of us to find the path that God wants us to take to give honor to Him. Our ultimate purpose is to be united with God. To enter His kingdom, the Lord must see Christ in our hearts as we stand for judgment. How then should the world see us when we leave behind our own legacies? If the Lord must look at us and see Christ, then shouldn’t the world be able to see Christ when they look at our lives?
When I look at Kobe Bryant, I see a hard working man who did everything he could for his family, his faith, and his community. I see a man who through his flaws acted as Christ would. Can we say the same?