Tears In My Eyes
News of Kobe’s death and his 13 year old daughter put tears in my eyes yesterday.
I am 41 years old. Kobe was 41 years old. I came to the US after high school in 1997. Kobe was drafted in NBA in 1996 and was selected by Charlotte Hornets before being traded off to the Lakers. I didn’t grow up playing basketball as there was no interest in that sport where I lived in a town called North Nazimabad, Karachi, Pakistan. I am a huge fan of Cricket though, which I played all my life growing up through high school years. I was the captain of my high school cricket team in Karachi, fastest in-swinging bowler in the district that earned me many titles. But my interest in basketball sparked first time when my family took vacation to Disney World in Orlando when I was 8 years old in 1986. During that visit we went to see an extended family in Brooklyn, NY where my cousin (also my age and now a doctor) met me first time and wanted to play basketball on the street.
While I was junior at Michigan State University in 1999-2000, we won the NCAA championship title under Tom Izzo’s leadership. The Spartans finished the season 32–7, 13–3 to win a share of the Big Ten regular season championship for 3rd consecutive year. The NCAA win marked the school’s 2nd National Championship and Izzo’s only championship to date. It was that moment when I wanted to watch every game in Breslin Center.
In professional leagues, Kobe was a rising star at the same time. I would come home after a long day of classes and teaching (I was accounting teaching assistant for 2 years at MSU Broad School of Business) and I would spend hours watching basketball, most times with friends while having a beer. We would often look at Kobe and the points on the board and everyone knew there was nobody like him. The greatest athlete of our time. Period.
I quietly in the bathroom yesterday got a few tears in my eyes yesterday after hearing the news and I asked myself why do bad things happen to great people like this? He was a great sportsman, a fearless athlete, a wonderful father, highly respected by everyone, so young, and most importantly a role model for many. Watching him play over the years often gave me courage in my own professional career. He was about to start his next chapter in life after retirement from the NBA as a businessman, with partnership interests in private equity firms and many high ambitions. The loss of 13-year old daughter is devastating. As a father of 7 year old daughter, Aliyah, and 2 year old son, Liam, I can’t fathom the loss of precious life that his family and friends must be going through.
Come to think of it, the last time I got a tear in my eyes was when Lady Diana died in 1997. The same year, a highly popular singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan in South Asia died whose melody was so beautiful and I listened to growing up. I am sure many of my American friends have never heard of him. Both of these deaths happened abruptly.
Our time is limited in this world. We can control many things in life, but when and how things will end abruptly is out of our reach. Life is short. Give your loved ones a kiss each day. Be humble. Cherish the moments you live in. Make beautiful memories.
I will miss you Kobe.