We’re all in different stages of grief right now, but we’re alike in that the Kobe Bryant news is hitting us very hard. Bryant, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other souls, perished in a southern California helicopter crash yesterday morning.
On one hand, we all hurt for the obvious, natural reasons- seeing someone so young, with so much left to live for taken away in an instant. It makes us realize how fleeting life truly is. On the other hand, we all hurt on our own individual level for what happened in the Los Angeles metropolitan area yesterday as we see commonalities to our own lives and experiences.
It hits home for this writer as a 1978 birth and survivor of a small aircraft in air mishap. It literally hits home for Northwestern men’s basketball coach Chris Collins.
The basketball community suffered a devastating tragedy today. Sending all our love to the families & friends of those who were lost. ? pic.twitter.com/h8wTL8zzjI
— Northwestern Basketball (@NUMensBball) January 26, 2020
Collins grew up with Kobe Bryant when both of their fathers, Joe “Jellybean” Bryant (who also played professional soccer in Italy) and Doug Collins, were playing for the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1970s. Collins was also a national team assistant under Coach K. from 2006 to 2012 when Bryant was playing for the Stars and Stripes.
Collins re-connected with the Black Mamba on three national teams: 2007 Olympic qualifiers, 2008 Beijing Olympics, 2012 London Olympics.
“To have something like this happen is not fair,” he said after his team lost 71-59 at home to Ohio State last night, and “it sucks.”
The NU head coach, who mentioned that he has a daughter the same age as Gigi, got very emotional (understandably so), as you can see in this video below:
Life is precious. He was a hero to most all of our guys.
Mamba Forever ? pic.twitter.com/LgOAD0J5pi
— Northwestern Basketball (@NUMensBball) January 27, 2020
“Every minute’s precious.” he continued. “You’re talking about a guy that is probably a hero to most of them. Our guys were very emotional.”
NU freshman point guard Boo Buie idolized Bryant growing up. “He’s a basketball legend, but he’s going to be a basketball god now,” the Wildcats rookie added.
“I remember being a kid, doing fadeaways and saying his name.”
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation.Follow paulmbanks