Black Mamba Forever

It’s been two years since we learned about the fate of the legendary Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, and the other victims of the horrific helicopter crash. I remember it like it was yesterday. My now 10 year old still talks about that day. He woke up sick with a viral infection the next day and blames it on crying so much the Sunday before. We went through it that day. I think this was the first time he had an understanding of death, and it had a significant impact on him. Even at 8 years old, his emotional intelligence and awareness is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I’m 36, and I strive (daily) to be more like him. And I have to say, it’s pretty cool and rewarding to be raising a child you want to be more like. He was born with a compassionate, pure, and sensitive heart. But I have also worked incredibly hard to preserve that for him so that he doesn’t end up like me. I’m so so grateful God blessed me to be his mom.

Today (like most days) I’m thankful for Facebook memories. Below is what I shared Sunday evening two years ago with our Facebook community reflecting on emotions we felt this somber day. The sentiments still ring true:

One of the best (if not the best) things about having a child is their effortless, genuine ability to make you feel better. To make you smile even when you can’t stop the tears. But it’s also made me much more sensitive to the untimely passing of children. It’s a different sadness, the uncontrollable kind you feel deep in your gut that takes your breath away.

I was about Nathan’s age when I fell in love with the game. The bulls were my team of course. But I remember when Phil joined the Lakers, and Shaq joined the Lakers, and when Kobe was one of the only reasons I kept watching.

Nathan fell in love with basketball two years ago. There is not one thing in our house he can’t turn into a hoop. He actually had to “sign the book” at school two weeks ago for throwing trash away funny. He confirmed he was slam dunking into the trash can! We giggled and I told him to save it for the house.

When I told him Kobe died, the first thing he said was “but he’s only 41” and then he said “well obviously I’m never getting rid of his card” and then hit me with “do you think Lebron is ok…that was his good friend.” MY HEART. I kept him off ESPN until the Pels game this evening. And in between his roaring of “the Pelicans are smoking em, mom” and a lot of “BOOMS!” I’ve had to answer delicate questions. Nathan’s an innocent soul but his simplistic understanding of the world is so clear and direct. I’m grateful for that the most.

This one hit me hard. It’s a little unexplainable. Heroes get remembered but legends never die…Kobe was both. #mambamentalityforever

What some people may not know is Kobe Bryant nicknamed himself the Black Mamba after Uma Thurman’s character in the Kill Bill series. If you’re not familiar (one of my favorite movie collections BTW), Uma Thurman is a mom and assassin looking for her child and takes on some of the most ruthless killers in the world. That’s not why Kobe picked this nickname though. His self proclaimed nickname was born following his very public sexual assault case (all charges were dropped) and his captivation with snakes shedding their skin. His mamba mentality philosophy is rooted in the very simple idea of “just trying to get better at whatever you’re doing.” I realize some people view Kobe as an abuser and perpetrator. I don’t, and I’m a victim of sexual abuse. Kobe was someone I enjoyed watching not only on the court but with his family. He was a great #girldad. And he is one of the few professional athletes I tell my son he should strive to be like, both on and off the court.

Like Kobe, I embraced the #mambamentality after being diagnosed with PTSD. And I continue to embrace the #mambamentality every single day because every single day is a new opportunity to continue healing. I’m obsessed with creating the best version of myself, completely shedding the hate and resentment and fear from my heart. It’s made me a better mom, and honestly that’s more important to me than anything in the world. While I deserve to live in peace and I do the work because I want to for myself, my son’s happiness means more to me than my own. And I don’t think I will ever pivot from that mindset. Most days I have wins. Some days I fail, but I never lose. I have found it’s in the failures I learn new things about myself to build upon. So today I leave you with this quote from Kobe’s book The Mamba Mentality: How I Play…

“The key, though, is being aware of how you’re feeling and how you need to be feeling. It all starts with awareness.”


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