KOBY BRYANT (Nick Koza/Photo

I had just returned from the National Newspapers Publishers Association Mid Winter Conference, and I was exhausted.

All I wanted to do was lay down and fall asleep. Between channel surfing from Lifetime, CNN, ESPN, the nationally televised basketball game on CBS featuring Maryland at Indiana, I then landed on ABC7 where the NFL Pro Bowl was on.

I finished watching the end of the Indiana game, and was snoozing at the Pro Bowl. I slowly awoke and heard the announcers say something to the effect that “we mourn the loss of Kobe Bryant.”

Sickeningly, I sat up and popped open my computer and went directly to the Los Angeles Times website and it was there I saw the red breaking news banner revealing the terrible news.

NO! HELL NO!! WHY?

I went back to the television, switching from channel to channel. KCAL, KTLA all of them reporting the same. KOBE BRYANT IS DEAD!!!

I went to my computer again, immediately posted on Facebook; NO. NOT KOBE…NOT NOW!!

There comes moment in our lives when a tragedy occurs and we remember precisely where we were and what we were doing. 9/11, Martin Luther King Jr. assassination, the phone call from my sister telling me my mother had died, the other one when my niece told me my sister died.

Indelible moments that gut your soul, pierce your heart, send your mind racing for answers you will seldom if ever find. Sunday January 26, 2020 was one of those moments.

WHY? Grounded in a belief greater than I, do not offer any immediate solace in these moments. You’re sad, mad, speechless and devastated.

A couple of days have past as of this writing and I still ponder…WHY?

Sunday continued to unfold like a fog. I was going to stay in bed all day, but the death of Kobe ruined those plans.

I wasn’t going to join the family for the traditional Sunday dinner, I’d blame it on jet lag, but Kobe made me get up and go.

While at the Sizzler in Carson, every television station in the restaurant displayed images of the tragedy.

The patrons solemnly ordered their meals; it’s moments after church let out for many of them. Few if any words were spoken. You could hear forks cling from plates, perhaps a child voice would elevate above that.

The hostess was bit off their bouncy routine.

Was it because of Kobe?

I’ve been rather fortunate to work in a profession for more than 40 years where I get to see transcendent athletes perform in person. If I’m lucky, I get to ask a question or two.

Often I take for granted that theses iconic superstars such as Kobe are far from being like me, a mere mortal.

That is until something like this happens.

I was once bold enough to walk up to Kobe after a game and ask for his phone number, thinking he’d curse me out or look at me like some kind of fool. But instead he gave his cell number and on a couple of occasions I called and he answered.

It wasn’t a long conversation at all, once he told me he was boarding the bus during a road trip. Another time I asked why don’t the Lakers trade for Baron Davis and get him some help; he agreed it wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Even as reporters we become in awe of the subjects we cover, some reporters have much greater access than I did because their platforms are as such they command a different level of respect from the athletes they cover, so thus their relationships are much closer.

Nonetheless, like many I was a fan of Kobe Bryant, but not in the traditional sense where I went out and bought jerseys and other memorabilia. I admired what he represented in the human spirit, his unyielding fierce determination, daring devotion, steadfast commitment to his wife and children and his privacy.

My son reminded me on that fateful Sunday, that I bought him a No. 8 Kobe jersey many years ago. He Facetime me wearing it to refresh my memory.  It was ironic, in that he asked more about Kobe’s daughter Gianna than he did Kobe. He insisted on speaking to his 10-year old girl cousin Carlie, and we talked much longer than usual because of Kobe.

During moments such as these, as a writer you want to dig down deep, but I can’t. I thought I wouldn’t shed a damn tear, but while watching the Grammys and listening to Alicia Keys and Boyz II Men sing, “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye” I freaking lost it.

Damn!!!Why?

Why Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna? Why the other seven souls who perished on the plane with him? Why? Why? Why?

One can contemplate all they want, just as I am. We always want to know why. Pending investigations will reveal more and offer clues as to why that helicopter went down.

However, that will not fill this monumental void.

We lost Kobe Bryant! Why???

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