Dear Kobe

For Kobe

January 31, 2020

I was never a great basketball player. In fact, while playing was fun, I always found  watching professional athletes in the NBA compete at the highest level much more exhilarating. Even though I have a new favorite player every day, there’s always been one who I’ve admired since I was 7 years old. Not only did this man have crazy basketball talent, he was a strong leader, teammate, father, husband and amazing person on and off the court. 

That athlete was Kobe Bryant.

The very first NBA game I saw live in Oracle Arena was on Nov. 24, 2015 — Lakers at Warriors. Even though there were thousands of Warriors fans sporting their Curry, Thompson and Green jerseys, almost every single person in the crowd stood up when Kobe’s name was announced during the starting lineup. Some even yelled MVP. That was the moment I realized how great he truly was — fans and non fans alike respected Kobe and celebrated him throughout his career. He changed the game of

Kobe’s Dear Basketball poem // Photo from Ogene African

basketball forever. 

A few days after the game, Kobe released his poem “Dear Basketball,” saying that he would announce his retirement after the ongoing season. While I was frustrated at first because of all the positive memories, I realized that he would still be the same guy with the same passion, grit and love we all admired him for, even if he wasn’t on the court. That poem assured me that he was going to continue to do great things for his family and aspiring young athletes.

The news of his death on Sunday was too difficult to process for myself and so many other people around the world. But even though we’re all feeling grief, there are aspects of Kobe worth celebrating, and that’s what we should remember to carry on. So here’s to Kobe, his inspiring poem and his legacy that kids generations down the line will still hear.

 

Dear Basketball,

 

From the moment

I started rolling my dad’s tube socks

And shooting imaginary

Game-winning shots

In the Great Western Forum

I knew one thing was real:

 

I fell in love with you.

 

A love so deep I gave you my all —

From my mind & body

To my spirit & soul.

 

As a six-year-old boy

Deeply in love with you

I never saw the end of the tunnel.

I only saw myself

Running out of one.

 

And so I ran.

I ran up and down every court

After every loose ball for you.

You asked for my hustle

I gave you my heart

Because it came with so much more.

 

I played through the sweat and hurt

Not because challenge called me

But because YOU called me.

I did everything for YOU

Because that’s what you do

When someone makes you feel as

Alive as you’ve made me feel.

 

You gave a six-year-old boy his Laker dream

And I’ll always love you for it.

But I can’t love you obsessively for much longer.

This season is all I have left to give.

My heart can take the pounding

My mind can handle the grind

But my body knows it’s time to say goodbye.

 

And that’s OK.

I’m ready to let you go.

I want you to know now

So we both can savor every moment we have left together.

The good and the bad.

We have given each other

All that we have. 

 

And we both know, no matter what I do next

I’ll always be that kid

With the rolled up socks

Garbage can in the corner

:05 seconds on the clock

Ball in my hands.

5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1

Love you always,

Kobe

 

Dear Kobe,

 

From the moment

I saw you lead the Lakers,

Shoot game-winners and 

Make not only a dynasty

But Staples Center your home,

I knew one thing was real:

 

You were a legend.

 

A legend that will always be remembered —

From demolishing the Raptors with 81 points 

To reclaiming a gold medal for our country.

 

As an admirer of a legendary player

In awe of your every second on the court

I never thought this moment would come.

I remember each championship 

And in each moment hoped for one more. 

 

You took a step back from basketball. 

But that was OK because knowing you, 

You would continue to be the amazing man

Everyone knew you were. 

Continuing to make anyone, everyone,

Respect the game. 

 

From your basketball camps around the nation 

To always being there for your daughters

YOU were a legend. 

Everyone respected YOU. 

Because that’s what you did

You made non NBA fans respect you

In a way no athlete ever accomplished. 

 

You built a foundation 

And we’ll always remember you for it.

Which is why this news is too difficult to process.

Seeing my family and best friend shed tears, 

I realized it wasn’t a dream. 

Even after finding out five minutes later

It was already five minutes too late. 

 

But now, after reflection — I realized it’s OK.

It hurts, but it’s OK. 

Seeing fans line up outside the Staples Center,

Scrolling through tributes on Instagram 

And the strong support I received, I realized

The love and respect you stood for 

Will forever live on. 

 

But we all know, no matter what’s happened

You will always be a legend. 

The next kid who takes his failed math test 

And tosses it into the trash

Will now scream 

5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1

For KOBE! 

Love you always,

Anjali

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