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Tears for Kobe the dad and Gigi the daughter

kobe-bryant-gianna-ap-1580078395.webpMy daughter Celine did not cry for Kobe Bryant the basketball player.

She did not weep for Kobe Bryant the Los Angeles Laker or Kobe Bryant the Oscar winning artist.

She wept for Kobe Bryant the father. And Gigi the daughter.

It may have hit home even more because I almost died from a stroke three years ago. We found out how fragile life is.

While most of us talked about Kobe dropping 81 on the Toronto Raptors, winning five NBA titles and averaging 35 points in a season, it was tough for my girl to imagine the horror of dying in a helicopter crash while taking his daughter to one of her travel basketball games.

Celine and I did not travel by helicopter for her travel soccer games. We drove. But there is a bond you develop when you are alone in a car driving to Canton, Columbus and Rockford, Ill.

That was our ritual and I loved seeing my girl play. Mostly I loved spending time with her talking about the world and laughing about our often chaotic weeks during the drives to tournaments.

Kobe loved sharing those moments with his 13 year old daughter Gigi. He gave her advice, coached her middle school team and beamed with pride at her success.  Her goal was to play at women’s basketball power UConn and then the WNBA.

I wanted Celine to play basketball. I believed her athleticism would translate better in hoops than soccer. She played in one basketball tournament for dad. She began playing as a second fiddle on the team, deemed the star player to be soft and took over the team. Her squad finished 5-1 in the tournament.

Afterwards, I thought she’d chose basketball. Instead, Celine said “I did this for you. I’m done with basketball.”

And that was the end of that. However, I appreciate the importance of team sports for women. A few years back a story in Forbes said that every female CEO of a top 500 company played team sports in high school.

Celine played three seasons for her high school team and made All Oakland County her junior season before quitting. Her passion was academics and changing the world.

We’ve had great conversations while on the road. The Kobe-Gianna tragedy brought back memories of those long car rides.

That’s why there were tears for Kobe the dad. And Gigi the daughter.

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