Photo: Keith Allison, Creative Commons
By Tom Campisi
The breaking news of Kobe Bryant’s death—like one of his signature dunks—rocked the world yesterday. ESPN provided around-the-clock coverage. Other networks cut into regular scheduled programming, and the Grammy Awards—hosted at the Staples’ Center, Kobe’s home court—offered multiple tributes.
In the Campisi household, the news was received equally as hard, and even more so when we learned that Kobe’s daughter Gianna and seven other people were killed. Starting with town recreation basketball in grade three for my son Matt, and through his seasons with Upward Basketball, Hawthorne Christian Academy, and Indian Hills High School basketball, we were a basketball family for many years.
In the summer of 2012, me and Matt took a trip to the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass. While there, on a big screen TV in the Hall of Fame’s theater, we watched live as Team USA and Kobe Bryant won a game on the way to a gold medal. Later, at the Hall’s souvenir shop, Matt, picked out a classic No. 24 Kobe Bryant Lakers’ jersey, gold with purple trim. Of course, he outgrew it years ago, but we still have it as a keepsake.
In various interviews yesterday, former players and commentators unilaterally spoke about Kobe’s tireless work ethic, quest for greatness on the court, and “Mamba” mentality. I’d like to think that kind of drive rubbed off on Matt (and a whole generation of players).
In addition to Kobe, Matt was a fan of other top players like Lebron James and Ray Allen (the all-time three-point leader). From seventh-grade on, he played basketball year-round. When he wasn’t at practice or at IYB, he was home shooting in the backyard, into the late hours of the night on many occasions. The hard work paid off when he become one of Indian Hills’ all-time three-point shooters in 2016-17.
A couple of years ago, we found a great Christmas gift for Matt, whose favorite team is the Boston Celtics. It’s a signed, framed poster of Ray Allen squaring up for a three-point shot in the NBA Finals. But what makes the gift even more special was the fact that the defender valiantly trying to block the shot was Kobe Bryant. That legendary player, gone too soon at age 41, was such a great competitor—even another man’s poster was not safe.
The Campisi family joins local pastors and ministry leaders in praying for all the families involved in this tragic accident. Below are some of their reactions on Facebook.
Dr. A.R. Bernard:
Husband, father, legend, icon! We will miss you Kobe and Gianna!! My thoughts and prayers…#kobe #KobeBryant #mambamentality
Bishop Donald Hilliard:
In one minute, your happy life, can be completely wrecked by tragedy that will take a lifetime to recover from……Lord…
Pastor Louis Straker, Jr.
“The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Words cannot express the deep sadness I…
Pastor Dimas Salaberrios:
My heart is heavy for Kobe’s family and all the other victims families. Jesus help heal their pain, hurt and disappointment. Holy Spirit comfort them. In Jesus Name, Amen!
Bishop Carlton Brown:
My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Kobe and Gianna Bryant tonight. Let's be mindful of how we live out our life's purpose each and every day! Tomorrow is not promised.
Pastor Joe Cortese:
DEVASTATED to hear of Kobe Bryant’s tragic death this morning. I met him in 1996, my first talk to the NBA rookies. One…