Make everyday meaningful

Published 5:28 pm Wednesday, January 29, 2020

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For anyone who grew up a sports fan, it’s been a difficult week, and frankly it’s hard to put into words why.

On Sunday, NBA legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash, along with eight other people. Bryant was only 41 and had many aspirations for life after basketball. One of the other victims was his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, who appeared to love the game of basketball as much as her father.

There are very few moments where something happens that almost makes the news cycle and the world stop on its axis for a few moments, but Bryant’s death seemed to do that. Even the presidential impeachment trial took a backseat. Bryant lived in the public eye for more than two decades, and although he spent most of time on the west coast, most of us felt like we knew him. 

We think that’s because of the relentless drive that propelled him in his life. It showed in his play on the court.

Usually, if you’re watching a game and one team is up 20, it might be time to find something else to watch. But you were never doing that if the Lakers were down 20 because Bryant might get hot and do something unreal like score 81 points in a game. If he was 0-for-10 from the field, he was going to keep throwing up shots. For a guy with more riches than most of us can ever dream of, he played basketball as though he couldn’t lose. It wasn’t an option. It was like watching the game in its purest form, like when kids play on the playground. It made him relatable. 

Friends and family have talked about that energy carrying off the court too into post-basketball interests. It’s why he won an Academy Award in 2018. We could go on and on about his legend, but you can turn on a sports channel anywhere in the world right now and get many of the same analogies and accolades. 

Instead, we’d like to take this another direction. Bryant was far from perfect, just like any other person or celebrity. His sexual assault case in Colorado is a reminder of his own missteps along the way. 

But his energy for life was something the rest of us should try to emulate. There are dozens of quotes credited to him where he talked about defying expectations and overcoming adversity. He enjoyed the chance to prove doubters wrong, and it drove him.

On the night of his jersey retirement, he said something really profound.

“Those times when you get up early and you work hard, those times when you stay up late and you work hard, those times when you don’t feel like working, you’re too tired, you don’t want to push yourself, but you do it anyway. That is actually the dream. That’s the dream,” Bryant said. “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. And if you guys can understand that, then what you’ll see happen is you won’t accomplish your dreams, your dreams won’t come true; something greater will.”

Most of us do get caught up in the everlasting push to reach our personal summit, climbing endlessly one obstacle at a time. It can be tough, and it’s not always enjoyable, but at the end of the day it is all that hard work that makes any accomplishment worthwhile. Bryant understood that well and said it many times as he made his retirement rounds. 

His death at a young age also is a reminder of our own mortality. Life is short, so don’t take it for granted. Make every day as meaningful as possible, making the most of every minute. It’s the way Kobe lived his life, and it’s something the rest of us can take into ours.