The day the music died was a tragedy that inspired American folk song “American Pie.” It was a day in 1959 that saw three of the biggest pop stars of the day die in a tragic plane crash. Eight years later Otis Redding died in a plane crash that seemed to take the biggest young star of soul from the world. Two years after that in 1969, the great Rocky Marciano, a titan of American sports, died in a plane crash off of an airport runway. Even John F. Kennedy Jr. died in a plane crash in 1999. Now, in 2020, we face a tragedy of our own new decade. The death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter in a helicopter crash.

Not unlike the other stars mentioned, Kobe Bryant was a person of great celebrity that seemed to capture every room he entered, and always stirred up debates as to whether he was the greatest of his respected field.

To me, Kobe will always be the first basketball player I pretended to be. Kobe was my go-to player in the first edition of NBA 2k that I ever played, and was part of one of my favorite shows growing up, with his cameo in “Modern Family.” Kobe was more than a basketball player to me, and to so many other people as well.

His competitive drive and “Mamba Mentality” rocked the psyche of his teammates, coaches and fans alike. Kobe represented the global brand of the NBA unlike any other player before him. Earning the love and admiration of fans across the globe, in a 20-year career that showed flashes of genius with a splash of scandal, this all made Kobe Bryant rethink who he was; which then gave birth to his number 24.

Yet, all of this success on and off the court with basketball was still not enough. Because five championships, one MVP and 18 All-Star appearances were simply not enough. So Kobe decided to get into the film industry with an animated short film called “Dear Basketball,” that took home an Academy Award.

Kobe was also a loving father of four beautiful girls, the youngest having just been born this past summer. Parenthood was a responsibility Kobe seemed to relish even more than his basketball career. Kobe showed a duality to both, and charged forward with furious intent and near psychotic dedication in his careers, as well as loving unconditionally those closest to him.

I cannot begin to express or imagine the grief that Kobe Bryant’s friends and family feel with not only the loss of such a great star and father, but also Kobe’s 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant.

Perhaps the fact that so many captivating people die in aircrafts is symbolic of the heights humanity can reach, and the subsequent fall to earth that time and fate eventually doles out to us all. Maybe it’s just a comfort to think that all of these fascinating people are tethered together by some particles in the cosmos, but in the end, the final verdict is all the same. They are gone in violent and horrific ways, and we are left to mourn and wonder what more there could have been, all the while they live on in our dreams and in our hearts.

Grant T. Mitchell is a junior majoring in public relations. He can be reached at gmitch16@vols.utk.edu

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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