Updated: Jan 12
Kobe Bryant & Gianna Bryant Rest In Peace. My love and prayers go out to all the victims in today's tragic accident. TEARS ALL DAY. ALL NIGHT. My kids hugged me and each other. I hugged them as tight as I could. My mother called down to me to tell me the news and I burst into tears. What shock, what pain. What is going on??? This wasn't real I thought. I prayed it was false news. Unbelievable the world has lost a true legend and will mourn this loss forever. I cried on and off, I couldn't post my annual good luck Grammy post. All I could do was watch the news. Then after hours of watching it, I wanted to share a video of Kobe and dug up a high school video clip set to the song "SLAM". When it's time, I will share the video on social media. But it was this video of Kobe shining in his glory, his element, that snapped me out of my hopelessness and sadness long enough to write my memory:
"Yooooo, he can SLAMMMMMM", that's what my friend Derrick said about him before he arrived. "He is well trained, speaks several languages and eats, sleeps & breathes basketball. He takes after his father" others said. I was about 15 or so. Mom told me all about his and his Dad's greatness. Our team was worried, but our school was excited to play him. He was coming. I'll never forget the first day he walked into our Conestoga Highschool gymnasium, in a double breasted white gabardine wool cashmere peacoat. Just back from Italy with a face looking like it was chiseled to model. Here he was. And damn, he was fast as hell, intense and glided in the air with ease. I wouldn't even call it jumping because that's what the other guys did. He glided on air. And you could tell he loved that feeling. Perhaps it was that feeling that drove him to cultivate laser focus and work ethic. Perhaps he was born with it. Whatever it was he had it, and what a sight to see. I knew others would be jealous, we all knew he was bound for glory and endless record setting, but I wanted to make sure to extend my hand to our house guest. Because that's how I am, kindness first always. He had love for the game, passion for the points, just like our guys. Before the game that first day I went over and welcomed him to 'Stoga, wished him luck, congratulated him on his success thus far and thanked him for coming. Even in that brief conversation, his energy was like that of a professional. What a champ. I am honored to have known a small part of Kobe, in his early journey, blessed to have watched him play.
My mom saved a lot of local articles of Kobe. It was fun to look at together with mom, we lit up at his successes. What an inspiration. Mom and I loved that he had the courage to ask Brandy to prom with him, and she went! Just last month I decided to frame a vintage Jordan poster and then soon thereafter dug up the Kobe articles that mom saved. I decided I would frame Kobe's March 1, 1998 Inquirer Magazine Cover, (has THE BEST interview). I kept thinking I should go to the Sixers Lakers game that was coming up. But the front row seats I usually score were three times the price so I skipped it. I kept getting the feeling to go but I go alone and thought, well next time I will. My friend even messaged me the night before to tell me she was out with the Lakers in Philly. Usually I act on my gut and go but I'm sorry I didn't this time, I wish I was there to see history. Always live in the NOW and if you have a chance to be present and LIVE, DO IT ! Lebron was in town and in Kobe's hometown, he surpassed Kobe's #3 spot of all time highscoring in the NBA. I was WOWed! Kobe passing the torch to a man like LeBron James who I also admire for his big heart and giving ways, family commitment and generous tendency to GIVE BACK was amazing. I wish I went! (Side note, last clip I saw of Lebron on tv was him stating his main focus right now is his son's school project and homework and being a good big brother. To see him leading, at #3 in all-time basketball scoring, is a good place to be for a family man committed to the next generation).
I was tired this morning but after all the basketball history making, I had to get my jump on. I danced this day with our choreography group at our club and then I danced alone. When I stomped with the group I felt strong, pumped up and sent positive thoughts to Kobe, Lebron and of course to all of the fashion designers prepping for the Grammy awards. Design work is hard, fitting live bodies and making sure apparel is perfect is stressful, so I always write a pre-Grammy post wishing all the designers and performers luck. I would take a selfie pic after dance class. I said my goodbyes to the group, went to find my phone and went back to the empty room with the wood basketball-like floors. I had worn my patent leather new (first pair) of Air Jordans. I admired the hardwood floors and the shoes, the talent in Jordan, Bryant and Lebron, Abdul-Jabbar and Malone. Again Kobe entered my mind. Interesting I thought. I was also thinking of him, the night before the Sixers/Lakers game I was at a Conestoga Highschool game, in that same gymnasium that I met Kobe. Friday night I had just been thinking of first meeting him there. When I went to take my dance selfie I felt proud of how far I have come in my own strength and physicality. When I snapped the pic I felt his leadership and strength. I thought, Kobe would approve, my work ethic has been relentless! I thought of his work ethic and awesomeness. I recently commented to the Mamba Academy I would be out to visit the Academy and have every intention of still doing it. I got to my moms house, that day right after the gym and by the time I got to the bottom of the foyer she screamed to me in shock. A day and a loss we will forever remember clearly. I cried so long my 6yo daughter asked me if it would help if I painted or drew. I stopped my tears, yes it would. Tucked the kids softly to bed, counted my blessings once again and designed the front of this style, (image above and below this post). I promised Kobe to carry on his mission, asked him to help me to use my designs for charity awareness and to build the spirit of others. I had planned to design a shirt, to link with and honor Mamba Academy, in Kobe's honor but had no idea it would ever be in memoriam. It is my first NBA inspired style, not for sale, but I am so glad it's created and first for him.
I am dedicated to LOVE & UNITY. I love my family first and I design every time I dance and listen to music. I work when I can, as hard as I can, but going forward I ask that Kobe guide me on my work ethic, because his BLACK MAMBA work ethic is truly one to be followed. My heart breaks for the Bryant family, for Vanessa, Gianna's sisters, for Kobe's mother and father. May God bless you all and bring you peace and love. It is my honor to reveal my first NBA inspired design, tonight, Sunday January 26, 2020, in Kobe Bryant's honor. Thank you for the memories, entertainment, leadership, focus and fun, Kobe! Here's to YOU KOBE, to REPRESENTING, to reminding us all to always BE OUR BEST, here's to TOTAL FOCUS and TOTAL COMMITMENT, to PHILADELPHIA, to your LEGACY and to THE BLACK MAMBA!
Sincerely, Kia Lyons