I, like many others around the country, am mourning the tragic deaths of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi and the other persons on the helicopter that crashed last Sunday morning. The tragedy hit me hard because I just learned of his daughter’s rising basketball career. A few months ago, I watched clips of Gigi’s basketball games on Instagram and saw how active Kobe was in coaching her and her teammates. It warmed my heart. Then a few weeks ago, Kobe and Gigi went viral with the video clip of them courtside at a game. Kobe was explaining some aspect of the game to her, and she smiled seemingly finishing his sentence. Again, my heart was warmed to see the bond and relationship they had and the love of basketball they both shared.
That’s why it broke my heart when I learned of their deaths. When my husband woke me up from my Sunday afternoon nap and told me the news, I told him that it couldn’t be true. Sadly, I was wrong. We went to the movies that evening, and when it was confirmed that Gigi perished too, I shed tears in the theater. I just could not imagine the devastation that Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife, and their other daughters felt knowing they would never see their beloved husband and father again. And it took me back to the day when I lost my husband, and my heart broke even more because I know what it’s like to be living life one day only to have your world turned upside down the very next day.
This tragedy touched the hearts of people all over the country – and probably the world. Even the Israeli Prime Minister expressed his condolences on Twitter over the losses. However, something special happened. In the midst of this great loss, hope and love emerged – the “girl dad” hashtag. Fathers all over social media started posting pictures of their daughters in honor of Kobe Bryant and his love of being a #girldad. If you haven’t seen the pictures, check them out. They will make you smile and serve as a reminder that beauty can come from ashes.
My husband is a new #girldad, although he has a son now too, and the relationship I see him developing with our daughter is beautiful to watch. Girls need their father. I know from my own experience. I didn’t have a close relationship with my dad growing up and still don’t to this day. It is still a place of pain and creates a void in my heart. That’s why when my first husband died, my children’s biological father, my sorrow was magnified. I knew the void my children could feel growing up without a father. However, because of God’s mercy and kindness, God allowed a man to enter our lives who loves being daddy, and more specifically a #girldad. He met my children when they were three (daughter) and five (son). At three years old, my daughter wanted to call him daddy. She was so excited to have that special man in her life. Almost four years later, she’s still excited. She races me to hug daddy first when he comes home, and she squeezes in-between us when we’re on the sofa. She loves her daddy, and he loves being a #girldad.
I don’t fully know why the deaths of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and the others stopped the majority of us in our tracks. However, I hope we do see how God can give us beauty from ashes. This tragedy has made us hold our loved ones closer and recognize the value in being #girldads. I hope we hold onto it moving forward. Regarding Vanessa Bryant and her girls, I know God will carry them through this valley as God did for me and my family. My prayer for them is that one day – and this will take much time – they will be able to look back on Kobe and Gigi, smile with joy in their hearts, and praise God for the time that they had together.
Rest in peace Mamba and Mambacita.