Creer’s Column: Kobe

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How loss and legacy affects us all

The news broke on a Sunday morning: Kobe Bryant, 41 years old, along with his daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash. To many who follow the sports world, a legend had been lost. More importantly, there were people that day who lost a father, a husband, a brother, a son and a friend.

Personally in the last month I had the experience of losing two grandparents within a month of each other. My grandfather Kenneth “Doc” Creer and his wife, Shirley, had been married for almost 75 years. His passing in early December and Shirley’s death in early January was one of the most heart wrenching, difficult experiences I have had to deal with.

What makes these experiences so trying is not the legacy that is left behind — that is the element of death that is actually somewhat redeeming. In the last week, we have all been able to reflect on the five NBA championships, the surprising multitude of high scoring games and the many times that Bryant took our breath away.

The same nostalgic remembering also took place with my grandparents: reflecting on the memories of Doc and Shirley Creer continually brought joy to those that heard the tales of their plethora of impressive accomplishments and achievements.

What makes it so difficult is knowing that the world is now lacking a presence that felt needed and necessary, having an understanding that there are people who feel that something is missing in their lives. That feeling of emptiness has been felt both by those who were touched by my grandparents, and by an entire world of people that felt a connection to Bryant.

Sure the legacies of these great figures live on, but it’s knowing that I won’t be sitting on the porch with Doc and Shirley anytime soon that makes it so hard. With Bryant, it’s knowing that his daughters will grow up without a father, and a sister, that makes the whole thing so unbearable. It’s knowing that the world no longer has Kobe Bryant.

The moments that have tugged at my heart the most surrounding Bryant have not been the highlight videos or the jaw-dropping stat reports — what brought an instantaneous emotional response were the teary-eyed reactions from those who knew him. Watching the disbelief in Utah Valley head coach Mark Madsen’s face and the absolute grief of NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal reminded me of how I had felt in the last month and the complete shock I experienced knowing that my grandparents were gone.

Loss changes us, both the losses we experience personally and the losses of our idols. However, loss also reminds us to appreciate and cherish the moments we still have while we are here.

My advice? Take the time to truly appreciate those you have in your life. Call a friend. Ask someone how they are doing. Say “I love you” more often. Because if we have learned anything in the last week, it’s that you may not have the opportunity to do so tomorrow.

Rest in peace to Doc and Shirley Creer, and The Mamba — the world misses, needs and remembers you.

Photo courtesy of Reuters