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Dear Kobe

@Baldwin31

Dear Kobe,

you were my hero.

As a kid growing up in Calgary, Alberta it didn’t matter I could never see you play in person because you were so much more than that.

If Michael introduced me to basketball, you taught me to love it.

I’ll never forget in January 2006, my older brother Nick came home and said “you have to see what Kobe did”. I was eight, had recently given up cartoons for SportsCentre (a lifetime investment) and was more interested in sports than 99% of eight-year-olds.

He followed up with “he did something you won’t ever see again” and as we sat down to watch your 81-point game, my life changed.

That 2005-06 season is the first I remember. It’s funny because it’s also the final season you wore 8, so for me 24 is the guy I truly know and love. So many memories man, both finals against Boston, the 08 Olympics, Orlando, your final game, I was there for it all and it was a part of my childhood I now look back on and remember with unbelievable fondness.

You were always my guy; you were our Michael Jordan.

It’s not a coincidence on the wall in my room I have the iconic picture of the two of you. Together you were my heroes and together you’ll always be in my heart.

I mean how could someone not fall in love with your game though, every night you gave everything you had and when that wasn’t enough, you gave more. It was an incredible lesson for a young kid starting to learn about life. The lesson of when your best isn’t enough, give more, will never be lost on me.

You were a human being and we watched you make mistakes and grow from them. Whether it was Colorado and whatever happened in that hotel room, a homophobic slur or a misstep in a cultural movement, you always learned from your mistakes and were a better man for it.

Life was a constant game for you and the way you attacked it, never accepting no for an answer sent a message to an entire generation on what true hard work is.

We are your generation Kobe Bean Bryant.

People gather at a memorial for Kobe Bryant near Staples Center Monday, Jan. 27, 2020, in Los Angeles. Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

The generation before wanted to be like Mike but Kobe, you taught us to attack like the Mamba. Give everything you have with a mentality that accepts nothing less than perfection and greatness will be on your way in anything that you do.  

The stories of your life sound like those of a superhero because frankly, you were one.

Make a thousand shots a day, 40-mile bike rides at night or countless days on under two hours sleep, each ludicrous story was different but equally Mamba. They all taught us that if you want something, give it everything you have.

My favourite lesson you ever taught though was about finding your passion and how when you found that one thing that no matter what you’re always thinking about, the work won’t feel like work.

No matter how much I think about the lessons you gave us, or the memories on the court, one thing remains indisputably true for me:

Kobe it breaks my heart you’re gone.

If there was one person in the world I wanted to meet in my entire life it was you; just to talk, not even about basketball but about life.

See, Kobe you were about so much more than basketball and that’s why the whole world is sad right now. That’s why a kid from Calgary is just as sad as a kid from the Philippines or Barcelona or China or wherever else in the world. You represented our generation and with you gone, it feels like there’s a hole in what we’re supposed to be.

A large drawing shows US NBA basketball legend Kobe Bryant and daughter Gianna at a basketball court in Taguig, south of Manila on January 29 2020. – Nine people were killed in the helicopter crash that claimed the life of NBA star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Los Angeles officials confirmed on January 26, 2020. (Photo by Maria TAN / AFP) (Photo by MARIA TAN/AFP via Getty Images)

It was my dream to meet you Kobe, you were my hero.

Although it’s been a rough week, I know you’d hate if I dwelled on you passing away any longer. You would hate if I “wasted” even a second on my craft in being hurt over your passing.  

That’s why it is with great sadness I must say goodbye Kobe, not to your teachings or the memories or any of that but to you. You lived an incredible life worth celebrating and I’m tired of being sad.

It may still break my heart you’re gone and leave a hole in it where the part where I inevitably met you was supposed to go is but, that’s life. If there’s one thing you taught us, it’s that with each day brings a new opportunity to get better and with that mindset, dwelling on sadness doesn’t equate.

Your impact will always be all over anything I do Kobe and with that in mind I promise to never let you down. You’re the mentor I never met, the mentor I’ll never forget and the mentor I’ll never fail.

Goodbye to my hero, the man who made me fall in love with the game that means the world to me. Your mentality will forever be with me,

Yours truly,

A proud member of your generation,

Will Baldwin

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