When I saw the @TMZ tweet that Kobe Bryant had died, I had the reaction thousands of other Twitter users had…please don’t be real. As other sources started to confirm the tragic news, a deflating feeling set in. Unfortunately, that feeling became even more grim as updated reports circulated about additional people involved.
The deaths of famous and noteworthy people, especially in sudden ways, can jolt us. Although it might not hurt as much as when a member of our own family passes away, there can still be pain involved. Despite the unpleasant emotions we feel, high profile deaths deliver a message that we can all take a heart: Death spares no one. Regardless of whether an individual has been gifted with political power, athletic prowess, or international popularity, we all must face mortality. Although we don’t know when, where, or how, we all will be judged…regardless of how many Instagram followers we have when we pass.
A common theme on social media yesterday was that Kobe’s death will cement itself in the timelines of millions of lives. Years from now, many of us, especially sports fans, will remember where we were when we heard the unbelievable news that one of the greatest basketball players to ever walk the planet had his life cut short. This will hold true for me. Whenever the movie “Inglorious Basterds” is brought up in discussion or shown on TV I will think about Kobe Bryant because that was the film I was watching when I heard the news. As I sat on our living room couch staring blankly at the tweet, I glumly told the news to Sidney as she hung with her friends who came over to celebrate her birthday.
I believe the news of the Kobe helicopter trash will engrain itself in my memory in the same way as three other famous deaths. Although Osama Bin Laden’s demise will always ring fresh in my mind, I prefer to focus this blog post on the souls who had a positive impact while on earth.
Princess Diana – I know I am dating myself with this, but I vividly remember Princess Diana’s death in 1997. I was at my grandparents’ house in Walla Walla, Washington, when news broke that the Princess of Wales had been in a car accident. We watched CNN’s coverage as the network tried to sort out what had happened and who (if anyone) had survived. When the lower third displayed the unthinkable news and the screen showed a photo of the Princess with “1961-1997” written underneath it, my grandma looked straight at me and said “Uh-oh.”
Pope John Paul II – The leader of the Catholic Church since 1978, Pope John Paul II had been in his post for 27 years when he fell critically ill in 2005. I was a high school senior at the time and my family watched coverage for two days straight as the Holy Father’s time on earth neared its end. When he did finally pass, we sat in front of the TV in the basement, thankful for the example he set for the entire world.
Michael Jackson – I had just started my first professional job after graduating college. It was an afternoon in July of 2009 and I was in the athletic offices at the University of Montana. Word started to spread around the Adams Center that Michael Jackson had died. Not much work was done the rest of the day. That night I went downtown with a couple friends and it was a circus-like atmosphere. Even in Missoula, Montana, there were Michael Jackson impersonators roaming the streets and every bar was playing music by the King of Pop.
Let us pray for the souls of those who lost their lives in the helicopter crash and also for the families left behind. Don’t Blink.