Larry Buford (Courtesy photo)

In the aftermath of the tragic accident on Sunday, Jan. 26 – where basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash – there have been many somber and celebratory tributes in Los Angeles and around the world.

TV clips of him, whether in action on the court, or off-court interviews are constant; and they all point to his dedication to the game; his strong, disciplined work ethic; and his respect and love for others – especially his wife, Vanessa, and their children.

One of the stories about Kobe that caught my attention was the fact that he and Gianna went to church in the early morning before they boarded the chopper. According to a New York Post article: “Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, went to church just hours before dying — along with seven others — in a helicopter crash on the way to the teen’s basketball tournament.

“The two attended 7 a.m. Catholic Mass and received Communion at the Cathedral of Our Lady Queen of the Angels in Newport Beach, a church spokesman confirmed to the Daily Mail.  “After leaving the house of God, Bryant and Gianna boarded a Sikorsky S-76B with the other occupants at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana at 9:06 a.m.”

So, now we know that Kobe was not only religious to his profession, but also to his faith and spirituality.  In a 2006 interview on ESPN’s show, “Quite Frankly,” hosted by Stephen A. Smith, Kobe revealed his spiritual side. Concerning the Colorado incident of accusations of adultery, the host asked how he got through it and when do you know [God is with you].

Kobe responded, “God is great…until you got to pick up that cross that you can’t carry [alone], and He picks it up for you and carries you and the cross. Then you know…it don’t get no simpler than that bro’.”  When asked, “How do you get to that point that you don’t worry about yourself, even under such trying circumstances?”

Kobe replied, “Let it go, put it in God’s hands and He’ll carry it. You want your daughter to grow up with a father; you want your wife to have a husband there for her. I know they need me.”

In that same interview when asked to comment on some of the derogatory things Lakers head coach, Phil Jackson, had written about him in his book, Kobe said, “Life is short,” and that he had forgiven him, and does not pass judgment on others.

Apparently, Kobe had a good understanding of God’s principles and standards that he upheld. I believe that is what made him the legend that he had become – he revered God. God was first in his life! He didn’t worry about himself or what others thought about him. His trust was in God.

May Kobe rest in peace and in power! And if you really want to honor him, let’s dedicate next Sunday to him by attending a local church and praying for the souls of the deceased, and for all the families and friends affected by this tragic loss.

If it was one of the last things Kobe thought important to do, maybe you can make it the first thing you do to show honor. May God bless us all!