Kobe Bryant: Man of Faith and Flaws

Kobe Bryant and the Fragile Life

Dr. Craig von BuseckBy Dr. Craig von Buseck7 Minutes

We have lost another icon. This time it is Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash – along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, some of her teammates, her coach, and friends – in all nine people lost their lives.

This is the kind of tragic event that causes most people to stop and take stock of life. We say that every day is a gift and tomorrow is not promised to us. However, that idea hits close to home when we lose someone who loomed so large in the public conscience.

Kobe Bryant is widely considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He will be eligible for the Basketball Hall of Fame next year, and most believe he will be inducted. He retired in 2016 after playing for 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was an 18-time NBA All-Star. During his career, he won five NBA championships, a league MVP award, two scoring championships, and two Olympic gold medals. He is fourth on the list of all-time NBA scorers.

Bryant was only 41-years-old when his life was cut short.

Life is Fragile

Abraham Lincoln, who lost his mother when he was only ten, and then lost two sons, was sometimes preoccupied with death. He would often recite parts of the poem “Mortality” by William Knox:

‘Tis the wink of an eye, ‘tis the draught of a breath,

From the blossom of health to the paleness of death,

From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud,

Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?

Lawrence Weldon, who traveled the law circuit with him, recalled Lincoln reciting the poem. “Tasteful composition, either of prose or poetry, which faithfully contrasted the realities of eternity with the unstable and fickle fortunes of time, made a strong impression on his mind.”

It is the same with us, isn’t it, as we ponder the sudden and tragic loss of Kobe Bryant? This shocking news brings us face to face with our own mortality. This has always been a part of the human condition.

Life is Short

The Bible has much to say regarding the fragile nature of man. The Apostle James declares:

Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes (James. 4:14 ESV).

The loss of a wealthy celebrity also reminds us that death is the great equalizer. There is an old saying that you never see a U-Haul following a hearse. We come into this world with nothing, and we leave with nothing.

Jesus told the parable of the rich man who gloated over his wealth:

“I’ll sit back and say to myself, ‘My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!’”

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’”

Jesus drew this important conclusion: “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God” (Luke 12:19-21 NLT).

Lessons from a Too-Short Life

So what lessons can we learn from the life of Kobe Bryant? He was a committed Catholic Christian who made a commitment to help the poor through the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation. The foundation helped fund youth homeless shelters and other projects aimed at serving those in need.

“You have to do something that carries a little bit more weight to it, a little more significance, a little more purpose to it,” he said in a 2012 interview with the Los Angeles Times. “It’s easy to point the blame at those who are homeless and say, ‘Well, you made that bad decision. This is where you are. It’s your fault.’ In life, we all make mistakes and to stand back and allow someone to live that way and kind of wash your hands of it … that’s not right,” he said.

Like all of us, Kobe made mistakes that I won’t dwell on here, other than to say he apologized for his wrong actions and paid for them. He had challenges in his marriage, but instead of giving up and walking away when his wife filed for divorce, they worked through their issues with counseling and eventually reconciled.

In the end, both on and off the court, Kobe Bryant became a role model for an entire generation.

Final Conclusions

The writer of Proverbs reminds us to walk in humility regarding our lives: “Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring” (Proverbs 27:1 NLT).

Perhaps you are like so many people who are in shock after the news of Kobe Bryant’s sudden passing. We all need to reassess our lives from time to time to determine what it is we want to leave behind. We should all ask the question, “What will be my legacy?”

Another question many people ponder at a time like this is, “Am I prepared for eternity”? To come full circle, we are not guaranteed tomorrow. But at the same time, we are offered the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

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