There are 525,600 minutes in a year. One minute you can be laughing your heart out and the next thing you know the world changed. 2020 showed the world that the beauty and fragility of life can co-exist in the same place, and how heartbreaking it can be. The morning of Jan. 26 in Calabasas, Calif. put things into perspective with the loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, along with seven others, who were on their way to a basketball tournament.
The agony of what could have been had the skies been clear seeps in. Life was just getting started for two basketball greats, but somehow life changed course. The year following an ill-fated accident showed that life goes on, and that’s precisely what happened. They achieved what they were destined to accomplish with WNBA draft selections and Hall of Fame inductions.
Los Angeles mourned its heartbreak through creativity. If you take a drive around Los Angeles, you’ll see dedications to the five-time NBA champion and his daughter. One account on Instagram — Kobe Mural — is dedicated to the growing number of murals in Los Angeles and around the world. It’s chronicled the year of healing the loss of a legend and another one in the making.
The Kobe Bryant All-Star MVP Award
The first major NBA event following Bryant’s death was the 2020 All-Star Game and the NBA made sure one of the greatest players to ever grace the court was honored to the fullest extent. Many players at All-Star weekend had some type of relationship with Kobe and for them, as well as the league, to honor him in those moments is what they and the fans needed.
The league honored the Bryants by Team LeBron wearing the No. 2 in honor of Gigi’s jersey number and Team Giannis wearing No. 24 for Kobe. It was bittersweet to see the jerseys of the father-daughter duo grace the court.
During Bryant’s illustrious 20-year career, he made 18 All-Star game appearances and was named an All-Star MVP a record four times. It was only fitting that the NBA named the award after the Los Angeles Lakers great.
Gigi Drafted to the WNBA
Gigi was going to change the game of basketball. Her father said she was better than him at her age than he was. Gigi knew how to play the game at the professional level at only 13 years old. She was a beast on the court, to the point she was anointed with the name Mambacita.
Gigi was going to be the face of basketball the same way her father was when he played.
When Gigi was selected as an honorary draft pick in the 2020 class of the WNBA, it was destiny coming to fruition. Gianna Bryant, out of Newport Beach, Calif., was a WNBA player.
Hall of Fame Induction
Bryant is regarded as one of the best to ever play the game. Five championship titles, two finals MVP awards, one league MVP award, and 18 All-Star selections only scratch the surface of a legendary career.
It was evident that Bryant was headed to the Hall of Fame very early on in his career. Back in August, Bryant was named a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The final touches were finally placed on a historic career.
The past year wasn’t about ‘what could have been’ because the destined career milestones that were always going to happen did happen. The past year was about the heartache of two people not witnessing what they accomplished.
Los Angeles may never heal from the loss of a husband, father, and person who embraced the city as his home, along with his daughter who was just getting started. But the murals in honor of Kobe and Gigi have provided closure in an unbearable year; they’ve shown that Los Angeles is truly the city of angels.