the mini-bitch: complicated Kobe grief edition

Good morning bitches 🖤

As a journalist, it is rare that stories hold space in my mind for more than a few hours. News moves so rapidly that this entire industry would collapse if we took proper time to process the tragedies we write about every day. I’ve written about mass shootings, womb snatchers, suicides, fatal car crashes, and more murders than I could count—yet somehow it’s the death of an athlete that has nearly frozen me for the past 36 hours.

It is common GMB knowledge that I am not a sports girl in any way, so I struggled to understand why I have felt absolutely gutted since I first heard Kobe Bryant died. I spent hours on Sunday scrolling and scrolling through Twitter, watching highlights and interviews I never would have cared about before. I read threads about how Kobe is an integral part of Black culture, how he shaped entire childhoods, how his iconic legacy was stained by controversy he never quite shook.

This tweet from my friend Kyle made me feel a little better for digging myself so deep into mourning:

Then I felt really, really stupid. I’ve watched maybe 5 NBA games in my life, and couldn’t tell you the first thing about Kobe Bryant—except that I sarcastically shout his name when throwing something in a trash can. (In fact, I’ve accidentally called him Kobe O’Bryant TWICE this morning, so ????) I felt ashamed that I cared, and decided I had no business being emotional over a man I had no opinion about until he was dead.

Finally, after another 45 minute Twitter hole, I came across this:

So you’re saying I’m projecting my grief about my dead mom onto the death of a celebrity? Yeah, that adds up. (Good morning bitch Daniela aka my therapist confirmed this is a valid feeling via text last night 🥺♥️)

I was with a lifelong Kobe fan when the news broke, and he was utterly heartbroken that his childhood hero had died so young, so tragically. His reaction was pure shock and horror, shouting “oh my God, oh my GOD, OH MY GOD” before finally telling me what was going on. That moment shot me back in time to three months ago, and the way I reacted when I found out my mom died. I had no connection to Kobe, but I instantly felt deep sorrow for his daughters who had just become half-orphans like me. When ESPN broke that his daughter Gianna died, a sickening wave of numb disbelief flooded my body. My grim, grieving mind even went so far as to think “at least she doesn’t have to live in a world where her dad no longer exists.” Yes, for a brief moment I was jealous of a dead 13-year-old. #ThisIsGrief in its truest and darkest form.

This email is not a tribute to Kobe Bryant, because I am nowhere near qualified to do him justice. (But I will point you in the direction of people who are, like ESPN Senior Writer Ramona Shelburne, biographer Louisa Thomas, NYT sports reporter Marc Stein, and Washington Post sports writer Ken Babb.) I simply wanted to put into words my layered reaction to this undeniable tragedy in hopes that it might bring clarity and comfort to those of you experiencing similar feelings.

And just on an interesting social media note, Barack Obama now has the two most liked tweets in history:

I also want to plug this article by the LA Times, which profiles each of the 9 victims.

I wish love and healing to the superfans, to the casual fans, and to the not-at-all fans who are hurting this week. Your grief is valid in every form.

Until next time,

xo,

Lily

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