My Turn: Picturing Kobe in a treasured snippet of time

  • Gianna Maria-Onore Bryant sits on the shoulders of her father, Kobe, as they attend the women’s soccer match between the United States and China on April 10, 2014, in San Diego.

For the Monitor
Published: 2/13/2020 6:15:24 AM

Last September I linked up with three other Plymouth State Panther basketball alums to play golf on a course in the middle of Vermont. It was a perfect day marked by less-than-perfect golf shots.

We had a short wait on a back-nine tee and a member of our foursome did what many folks do nowadays when there are a few spare moments. He pulled out his phone to share some imagery.

Dave Long is not only a former college hoop teammate and sports columnist for Manchester’s Hippo but he’s also an uncle. Now being an uncle is not necessarily remarkable, as many of us become uncles without even trying. But what can be remarkable is seeing how our nieces and nephews can excel. I know the feeling. (I’m talking about you, Caleb, Kristian and Malia!)

Anyway, Dave shared some photos of his niece, Allie Long, who was a member of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team that won the World Cup last year. Yes, Allie was part of that special group of champion female athletes that included the likes of Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd and “Sportsperson of the Year” Megan Rapinoe.

But what Dave really wanted to share was basketball-related as much as soccer-related. He showed a video of Allie and her soccer teammates signing autographs – mostly for girls – at a California event after the American women won the world championship. One of the girls who sought Allie’s autograph was accompanied by her dad – a really big guy who dwarfed all around him.

Kobe Bryant.

As diehard basketball fans going back to even before the days of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, we naturally thought the Kobe imagery was pretty cool. But even cooler was the notion of one of the all-time basketball greats and his daughter seeking autographs from Dave’s niece. Wow.

Dave was obviously proud of that autograph scene on his phone and I was pleased that he shared it. The more I thought about it, the cooler it seemed. That simple moment – waiting to tee off on a back-nine hole in Vermont – became one of countless memorable vignettes that enrich the lives of people for whom sport is a passion.

Upon hearing of the terrible Jan. 26 helicopter crash that took the lives of Kobe, his daughter and seven others near Los Angeles, I immediately thought back to that moment in Vermont and wondered if anything good ever flows from such heartbreaking tragedies.

Maybe.

The helo crash that snuffed out the lives of nine vibrant human beings was a haunting reminder of our fragile mortality and surely resulted in some renewed appreciation for our gift of life – with countless subsequent hugs for fathers and mothers, for sisters and brothers, for sons and daughters, for nieces and nephews.

And maybe even uncles.

R.I.P. Kobe and Gianna.

(Loudon’s Mike Moffett is a retired Marine Corps officer, professor and former basketball coach.)




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