Mamba’s Mentality

I originally had something completely different planned for this week, but obviously the world was shaken on Sunday with the passing of Kobe Bryant. Someone with such prestige in and outside of athletics absolutely deserves this change in plans. Today’s original post might be coming later this week.

The biggest thing I take away from such a tragedy is to hug your loved ones a little longer and tell them how much they mean to you. It’s moments like these that you think about all the times you take life for granted. Thank God for giving you today. You truly never know when anyone’s time is, as scary as that thought may be.

The unexpected piece of this is what makes it so hard to stomach. Kobe didn’t do this to himself through his own poor decision making, as many big stars often do… he naturally had one of the best brains the sports realm has ever seen. He exemplified a lot of what “The Super 8” is, so I picked out some of his best quotes to share and explore as a tribute to him.

“If you want to be great at something, there’s a choice you have to make. What I mean by that is, there are inherent sacrifices that come along with that. Family time, hanging out with friends, being a great friend, being a great son, nephew, whatever the case may be.

Being great at anything really does take an extra sense of discipline to yield sacrifice. It’s easy to read and nod along to, until you have to experience it. It’s hard. Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine if it’s worth it or not. Anything you want to be better at always leads to having to give up an alternative option… becoming a better student, developing as an athlete, looking for a job promotion, executing a healthier diet, raising kids, etc. I’m sure there are plenty of instances where you can sit back and think of times you’ve had a fear of missing out on something else you’d enjoy, but I’m sure there are also times where you’ve felt rewarded by doing the right things. Hold on to those moments. Kobe was the king of that mentality. He put everything he could into his career knowing that he’d be able to enjoy the other aspects of life when his basketball days were over. Focus on what’s important to you right now without losing sight of your goals.

“My parents are my backbone. Still are. They’re the only group that will support you if you score zero or you score 40.”

Parents and family go hand in hand. I truly believe in this quote in a context beyond sports or basketball. There are so many things that we do in life for the approval of other people, a boss, a coach, a teammate, a coworker, etc. All of these people carry certain expectations, and as badly as we strive to please everyone, we are bound to fall short some of the time. Family becomes the landing pad for these falls. The faith that family has in you should never waver, and it should always inspire you to try new things, seek new opportunities, and feel invincible. As an athlete, there are so many casual fans that will hop on your bandwagon when you’re doing well, but they’re just as quick to abandon you when you struggle. The support of family should be constant, through all highs and lows of life.

“I’m reflective only in the sense that I learn to move forward. I reflect with a purpose.”

Like I said before, education is not taking notes in a classroom with a pencil and lined paper. The most valuable education comes from experience. Reflection on the past, as Kobe explains, enhances the current moment. These current moments in the now are all we really have. It’s been shown that tomorrow is not promised and there’s nothing you can do to go back and change your past. The past educates us. It tells us to either repeat what made us successful to meet that high standard again, or it tells us what to learn from to help us in the now. Take the time to reflect. Go back to move forward, and if you’re blessed with the ability to continue on through life day by day, do it in the best way possible. In this, you build your character, and that is how you will always be remembered.

“I’ve pretty much done all I can here and, you know, God will carry me the rest of the way, so I’m pretty comfortable with that.”

Kobe said this towards the end of his career, and it’s pretty eerie to read now. Regardless, it’s true for us all. When you reach the point of success that he did, you are truly unmatched, and you are content with putting your trust into a greater belief that everything else is going to work out. Kobe reached a level of transcendence beyond his basketball accomplishments, and put trust into a higher power. He started to develop a life after basketball that involved him in the development of youth. Ultimately, there’s a greater plan for all of us that we just have to accept and have a sense of comfort in.

“Life is too short to get bogged down and be discouraged… you have to keep moving, you have to keep going, put one foot in front of the other, smile, and just keep on going.”

In memory of Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, and Alyssa Altobelli and the four others lost on Sunday…

Hug a little longer this week.

-B.F.

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