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Mamba Day: Who Tells Your Story

GOAT. Black Mamba. Kobe. #GirlDad.

Kobe Bryant by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY SA-2.0

Mamba Day: Who Tells Your Story

Estimated Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Authors Note: The following piece was initially written to be published as a companion piece to this one, written just mere days after Kobe passed. The world as a whole and my own personal world have been shaken up significantly in the 8 months since this has passed. So instead of just adjusting the original piece, I thought I’d provide a little afterthought below as we revisit this on Mamba Day and just after what would’ve been his 42nd birthday.

The World Was Wide Enough

We’ve had a lot of time to dissect what Kobe’s legacy is both on the court and off. Stats and trophies and championships are all fantastic. But the thing that has spoken to most of us and to me most personally is his status as a #GirlDad. More than the lists of his career accomplishments or his Mamba Mentality it was the Girl Dad hashtag that consumed and took over social media.

Believe it or not, my dad and Kobe do have one thing in common. It’s that they are both exclusively Girl Dads and while I might be biased I personally think he’s one of the best out there. If not the best. While people all over the world battle a pandemic together my household has been fighting our own bigger personal battle as my dad struggles to recover from a stroke that changed all of our lives last September.

Gone is the guy who coached my soccer team for 10 years and would spend hours in our front yard just kicking a ball back and forth with me.

He can’t take me up to the baseball diamond on the corner to take batting practice and shag fly balls or field groundballs. He’s not building sets for my shows or accidentally turning his cloud prop backward in one of his 3 onstage performances.

It’s a struggle many days for him to do the most basic things we all often take for granted, let alone do anything related to sports. He can however still watch sports with me as well as watch Say Yes To The Dress with me and tell me that I’m not allowed to wear a jumpsuit at my wedding. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that he gets to see for himself that I will save the jumpsuit for my rehearsal dinner and not my wedding day.

I may not have lost my dad suddenly like the Bryant girls did but I’m slowly learning what that loss feels like all too well. It’s hitting a little too close to home to have to think about what this day feels like in their household. How conflicting it must feel to want to celebrate him but just how deeply painful it is to have to confront those feelings of missing him. The only thing that we can probably agree on right now is that we are amongst the lucky ones to have such great dads as our role models.

It takes a strong man to be a soft person. And to take no shit while also being kind.

Kobe did that for all the girls he coached and mentored both on Gianna’s team and the Sabrina Ionescu’s of the world. My dad did it for all of the Storm and Cheetas he coached. To not look for a fight but to never back down from one that is worth fighting for.

Sure, Kobe Bryant did incredible things on the basketball court but I actually think his biggest accomplishment in death (and life) has been showing us how important and how powerful it is to be a great Girl Dad. Kobe’s legacy is so much bigger than basketball.

Happy Heavenly Birthday, Kobe. I know you and Gigi are celebrating together. And Natalia, Bianka, and Capri are thankful to have had you to be their #GirlDad even just for a little while.

An actor by degree, sports lover by day, and a bartender by night. As a native of suburban Detroit it took moving to NYC for Katie to fully realize her love of all things Michigan and Detroit sports. Feel free to engage her in her love of the coolest city and prettiest state in the country and why she will always root for Ohio State to lose every sporting event ever. No, really I am dead serious about that last statement.

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