By Cristina Alvarez
Oak Hall Journalism Teacher
I try to not write stories for The Talon, as I feel my students are incredible at journalism. But writing is what I do, and I couldn’t think of another outlet I could use to process this tragic event.
Since Sunday, I’ve been trying to put into words what the world lost when Kobe died. Now, I’m not the biggest basketball fan, but I was a fan of Kobe, just maybe not at first. The thing is, I watched as he came onto the scene as a young, arrogant kid who got in trouble by doing stupid things, to this adult who cared so much about his wife, his daughters, his friends, strangers, etc. He was not just a basketball player. And even though playing defined his occupation, it didn’t define him as a person.
On Monday, I gave a mini lecture to my journalism classes about how to handle rumors when breaking news happens. The reason for this was because of Kobe. When I found out on Sunday, I was in shock. One of my colleagues told me he read reports that all four of Kobe’s children were on the helicopter, which turned my shock into unbearable sadness. These reports weren’t from some bogus outlet either (I’m looking at you TMZ), it was from ABC News. Here’s the thing: imagine if Kobe’s wife was having a girl’s weekend, away from her children, and she first hears about the crash. Then, someone calls her saying they heard all four of her children were killed as well as her husband. That would have been even more unnecessary pain someone caused because they wanted to be the first outlet to report something, without even checking if it was true. Unfortunately, we live in a world where being first doesn’t always mean being right. This could be true for any aspect of life: accusing a significant other of cheating, blaming a friend for gossiping, etc. It is more important to be right than to be first, and that applies to more than journalism.
Now, I don’t normally cry or get upset when famous people pass away. In fact, I’ve only cried twice: when Stan Musial died (one of the greatest St. Louis Cardinals baseball players that has ever played the game), and when Chris Cornell died (lead singer of the band Soundgarden, a.k.a. one of the greatest voices of my generation).
I cried on Sunday, and yesterday. I cried for his wife and his three daughters. Not only did his wife lose her husband, but she also lost her child…her children lost their sister. I firmly believe there is no greater loss than losing a child. Just even thinking about not having my daughter in the world, well, that gives me anxiety about a sadness I hope I never have to feel.
This clip from “Ellen” about Kobe made me actually laugh out loud. This is the Kobe we should remember. Yes, he was a phenomenal basketball player, but he was an even better person. If anything, his death should remind us that life is an incredible gift. Don’t sweat the small stuff, don’t take life for granted, and be kind to each other.