It’s taken me a few weeks to get my thoughts in order about one of my recent paintings. I was shocked beyond belief, on the day I heard from the news that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven of their friends and team members died in a helicopter crash in the San Fernando valley. This news hit me hard in many different ways. I am an Angeleno, and I take such great pride in that fact that it is my home. My heart will always belong to LA. The crash occurred a few short miles from my family’s home in the valley, and that by itself was a scary notion on how close it all happened to people I love very much. I also grew up with Kobe Bryant gracing every LA Lakers game night when I lived at home with my mother, father, and brother. Basketball was my dad’s favorite sport, and he shared that love for the game with us. He was an avid Michael Jordan fan when we were younger and still lived in Asia (Philippines, Singapore). I remember him playing intramural basketball in Singapore, and then later becoming one of the coaches for the teams of Filipino engineers and architects that played in the league.
The Kobe era coincidentally occurred at the same time when we emigrated to California, USA. And so, Kobe represented so much more to me and my family than just the basketball player that we have all seen and heard on tv. Til his life’s end, my dad was a hard core Kobe Bryant and Lakers fan. A part of me found the recent news even more heartbreaking, because I felt like a very important thread connecting me to my dad has been severed. It hurt like hell. Like I was lost and couldn’t find my way home. And so I know what I needed to do.
I needed to paint.
Grieving. I couldn’t do anything else today, so I decided to make something and process the past few days. I don’t know what will come out of this but I will let my heart lead the way. It never fails me. #kobebryant
Seeing the Kobe and Gigi memorial on tv today has been healing. Seeing so many other people feel connected to this one man made me feel not so alone. And it helped acknowledge and validate my grief. That it was understandable that I felt so torn. That a man I never met once in my life meant so much. A whole city came together to celebrate him and time stopped for a brief moment to pay their respect.
So today, as we commemorate the legend, the athlete, the man, I am wrapped with warmth from the memories of my family that he has been a part of. Thank you, Kobe. Your memory lives on in our hearts, thoughts, and shared stories with loved ones.