I don’t believe it. I was sitting on my couch and exclaimed “Oh my God” when I read the words of several reports coming in. Like Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston prior, time halted.

NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among those tragically killed in a helicopter crash in California on Sunday morning. The helicopter was reportedly heading to a basketball game.

Bryant was, unequivocally, one of the greatest to ever compete in the NBA. Heck, play the game. He was not only an icon of the sport but an ambassador as well. It was shown tremendously by his tangible acts throughout the years.

I, unfortunately, never had the chance to meet him. But everything I’ve read and heard in the past several hours indicates to me not only how great of a player he was, but how incredible of a person he was as well.

Like many folks, Kobe was an indelible part of my childhood. There was many a time on the court I shouted “KOBE!” while taking a shot. Or played as him in a video game. I’ll also never forget a series of Nike commercials featuring Kobe and LeBron James as puppets – this one in particular being my favorite.

It sounds cliché but hug the ones you love and tell them so. Reach out to people you care about. We are never promised the next second of life on this Earth. Rest in peace, Kobe. The impact you had on the NBA, sports, and fans like me will live on forever.

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