January 27th, 2020. One day after Kobe’s death, I pull into my neighborhood and I see little Black boys shooting a basketball into a shopping cart, and I cried.
I cried, I cried, and I cried. My tears flowed longer than the Nile River, heavier than a thousand pounds. My tears were mixed with regret. Regret that I took for granted that my heroes would live forever, regret that I didn’t truly understand the love I had for this man until he passed. My tears flowed with remorse, for the loved ones who were lost, for the families who had life taken from them in the blink of an eye. My tears contained sadness from the deepest pits of my heart, but they also contained hope.
I saw beauty in those little black boys shooting that worn basketball into the cart. Poverty wants to break our spirit, it is designed to kill us from within. And as awful as I felt that morning, those boys allowed me to see the beauty in life and basketball. I never fully grasped just how much these men mean to me, and Black men period until that moment. Kobe was more than a basketball player, He was an iconic figure in a sport that serves as the Black man’s way to escape.
An escape from abuse, from poverty, from toxic masculinity, from a prison cell with mine and my brother’s names written on it. It is Black boys first opportunity to feel like Superman, to feel like we control the world. The court is our diary, where we spill every thought, every emotion, every feeling out like the blood of all Black men before us. We experience our highest and lowest moments all in the confines of a ninety-four foot court. We create lifetime bonds, we cry, we laugh, and most importantly we love.
We love the competition, we love the game, we love when the crowd goes crazy, but most importantly we love each other. We love our coaches, we love our teammates, we even love our competition. The love we share together is the true beauty of the game. We hurt each other everyday, we spill the blood of our neighbors brother, our neighbors son, and sometimes even our neighbors father. But in the game, we love. We love without condition with a ferocity that I soon hope we can give to Black women, our children, and each other. A love that we desperately need to spread or we’ll perish as fools of the past.
The same love we give to our favorite players, our favorite teams, lets give that to our women. Lets give our women room to grow, to make mistakes, to live like we do with the athletes we idolize. To love unconditionally, all groups of Black women. The fat Black women, the free spirited Black women, gay Black women, trans Black women, and all the Black women in-between. Our love as black men extends so far, and so wide. Wider than the Atlantic ocean and deeper than the milky way. I know this because I see the love we provide our mothers, our sisters, and the teams we worship. I dream of the day we exude love to groups outside of ourselves, the day we grow out of our selfishness.
To love our children unconditionally, to provide them with security they deserve.
Kobe’s life allowed me to realize all of these things. That the love inside of me and my brothers run deep, I can only dream to embody just a pint of his fierceness, love, and passion. Should I die before i display these traits to a people I so desperately want to give every ounce of myself to, I will have died in vain. Thank you Kobe, for being a symbol of everything I aspire to be as a Black man, for inspiring me to be more than my circumstances, to grab a vise grip of my wildest dreams and to hold them tighter than a Black Mamba wrapped around it’s prey. I love you.
And to all Black men who feel weak, scared, and hurt by this untimely event I love you. I see the best in you, I see your path and I see beauty in everything you choose to do. The best way to honor our heroes is to live all of the lessons we learned from them, and I fully plan to do so.