Wendy Gladney

On Sunday, January 26, we all felt the devastation when Kobe Bryant, his daughter GiGi and seven other passengers went down in a horrific helicopter crash. When I received the news, I couldn’t believe it; it was so surreal. Over time, as the reality began to sink in, I couldn’t wrap my thoughts around how a man who was only 41 years of age and so full of life could be gone in just the blink of an eye. My daughter and I were talking, and she said, “Mom, death does not discriminate.” This gave me pause to reflect on my own life. I want to make sure I truly live my life to the fullest, living out the purpose I know God has for me.

Kobe Bryant was known as the “Black Mamba.” I had no idea what this meant or where it came from and then I learned it came from the movie, “Kill Bill.” The Black Mamba is considered the deadliest snake in the world. After the sexual assault allegations back in 2003, Kobe adopted the nickname/alter ego, Black Mamba, as a way of coping with the ordeal that almost derailed his career as a superstar in the NBA. He used the term “Mamba mentality” to remind everyone of the constant effort needed to be the best version of oneself. He’s even been quoted saying, “I don’t want to be the next Michael Jordan, I only want to be Kobe Bryant.” What is your coping mechanism when you need to be encouraged? We all need one.

To fulfill part of his vision, Kobe started working with the Mamba Sports Academy that was founded in 2018 with Chad Faulkner. His daughter Gianna (GiGi), who was also killed in that crash, trained there. Mamba Sports Academy is a full-circle facility designed to update the way men, women and youth approach human performance and help them unlock their full potential. After Kobe retired from the NBA in 2016, he became a leading advocate to help build women’s college basketball and the WNBA — and we all believe it had a lot to do with being the father of four beautiful and talented daughters. In a tribute to Kobe, Michael Jordan stated that the Los Angeles Lakers icon “took great pride in his daughter’s love for the game of basketball.” His support will be missed, but not forgotten. He made a difference!

As we all continue to mourn the death of these nine individuals, what can we learn from this devastation as we move forward with our lives? I recently read and watched something Shaq shared on Twitter. “I haven’t felt a pain that sharp in a while…it definitely changes me. I’m going to do a better job of reaching out and talking to people instead of procrastinating because you never know.” We live in a time where everyone is so busy. We all need to slow down a bit and take the time to show more love, compassion and kindness to others, especially our loved ones. We all need love, forgiveness and attention. Why not start today!

Kobe believed, “the most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great at whatever they want to do.” I never met Kobe, but remembering my son Freddie sharing with me that he had a chance to “kick-it” and workout with him when he was a student at UC Irvine (and how he was motivated from that experience) and my daughter Courtney being a long-time Laker and Kobe fan, made this tragedy touch me in a personal way. Watching how the world is also responding is proof that he inspired people to be great at whatever they wanted to do. Remember, we all have the power to make a difference and inspire others.

I would like to close this message with the words of Kobe himself, “What can I say? Mamba Out.”

Healing Without Hate: It’s a choice. It’s a lifestyle. Pass it on!

Visit www.WendyGladney.com and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is an international coach, consultant, trainer, author and speaker.