The Last Thing Kobe Taught Me

If you’ve been under a rock for the past week then you may not have heard about the death of Kobe Bryant. You more than likely have. I don’t want to rehash what you already know here but I think we can all agree how awful and sad it is. Losing Kobe, his daughter and everyone else aboard that helicopter in such a horrific accident shook the world, and the fallout of that will last for years to come. What I will get into is the last lesson I learned from the life of Kobe Bryant.

I think most of us, if we have any sort of ambition, will want to impact the world. We’ll want to achieve our goals, we’ll want to excel and succeed and dominate in whatever field it is we choose to work in. Kobe is a prime example of that. He wanted to be the best and drove himself to that point. It’s impressive and historical and inspirational. As monumental an accomplishment Kobe’s career was, and how much he’s impacted the game of basketball it is, his basketball accolades aren’t the facet of his life that stick out to me, at least.

The last thing I learned from Kobe Bryant is that the relationships we have with other people are by far the most important aspect of life. Kobe dying hammered that home for me, and I don’t know the man any more than your next Irishman. However, the sentiment that seemed to storm the NBA during press conferences and media interviews all week echoed a similar realization, It went something like “What we’re doing here really isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things”. And that’s correct. 

What you’re doing in life, whatever it may be will bear no weight in the end. Achievements, fame, careers etc. aren’t the parts of life that give you meaning. They never have, but I think most of us get convinced that achievements will bring meaning. I’m as guilty of that as anyone. I convinced myself that getting published would bring me the ultimate sense of purpose or meaning, but that was naïve and it speaks to the point I’m making here. Doing things will not give you meaning. However, having a good reason to do things might.

And therein lies the essential piece; your reason why. That’s the difference that will make achievements bear meaning. The people you share your time with, the people you care for and about, the people you love. These are the reasons why. These are the most important aspects of your life and I guarantee that the friendships you work on will be the difference in whether you lead a happy life or one that always feels like there could be more.

Kobe, above all else, was a family man. The fact that he died with his daughter is the most tragic part of it all, especially given the closeness of their relationship. Still, I imagine in his final moments the things that sprang to mind weren’t his 5 rings, or his all-star appearances, or his countless broken records. Not a chance. Kobe spent his final moments thinking of his family, his wife and daughters, and about his friends, there is no doubt about that.

And that’s the last thing Kobe Bryant ever thought me. Yes, it’s important to have goals and a drive, but it’s even more important to have people around you to celebrate the achievements with. Kobe taught me, in death, that the relationships in my life are vastly more important than any would-be achievements, and that for me, is Kobe Bryant’s legacy.


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