No. Not like this. Dear God, please not like this. Like the rest of the basketball world, I haven’t stopped crying since the news broke yesterday afternoon. Somehow, the show went on, and the NBA didn’t cancel any games.
Trae Young was so close to Kobe and his daughter Gigi. Twice this season, the Bryant’s sat courtside to watch the stellar sophomore do his thing. He was Gigi’s favorite player. They both Facetimed Trae a few days ago to congratulate on him on being selected as an All-Star starter.
…This S*** can’t be real… this the first moment I was able to meet Gianna Maria, she’s been to only 3 games this year… 2 of them were mine… She told me I was her favorite player to watch🙏🏽 I can’t believe this😢😭
Rest Easy Gigi❤️ pic.twitter.com/IfDrE9Gjlv
— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) January 26, 2020
Before the game, Trae was seen crying with his mother. The strength it took for him to play an NBA game under that sort of emotional turmoil is unfathomable.
Trae’s tribute began by wearing a #8 jersey to start the game. Then the Hawks took an 8-second violation, and the Wizards followed up with a 24-second violation. The NBA is truly a brotherhood.
Everyone was in an emotional state. Hall of Famer, Gary Payton, was visibly upset during the game.
Somehow, Trae fought through the emotional pain and poured his heart out on the court. As the first half concluded, Trae hit a half-court buzzer-beater and pointed to the sky.
The somber game ended in a Hawks victory. Trae ended up with 45 points, 14 assists, 6 rebounds – on 24 shots, with a free-throw percentage of 81%. You can’t make this stuff up.
After the game, Trae said, “It’s crazy. Kobe was with me. There are some other stats that they told me in the back, and I was like, ‘Man, Kobe was with me tonight.’”
Chris Kirschner of The Athletic has an excellent piece that gives more detail on the relationship that Trae had with the Bryant’s.
Personally, I don’t know if I’m ever going to get over the tragic loss of Kobe and Gigi. They gave us so much and still had so much left to give. Vanessa and her daughters have to be lifted in prayer right now.
If and when the day comes when I get over the loss of my sports hero, I will probably look to Trae’s gutty performance as the first step in the healing process. We have a special one in Atlanta.
Thank you for everything, Kobe. Long live the black mamba.