Goodbye 24

On a foggy Sunday morning in the hills of one of the most beautiful suburbs in LA three families
were taking their daughters to play in a basketball game. Along for the ride were an assistant
basketball coach and the pilot. For reasons we don’t yet know the plane crashed and everyone on
board died. An entire community devastated for what was supposed to be just another afternoon
ride like they have done time and time before.

kobe love

But this ride would be different.

This ride would be etched in the minds of millions and leave the world in shock and sorrow.
Kobe and Giana Bryant (An NBA legend and humanitarian, his daughter)
John, Keri and Alyssa Altobelli (A legendary junior college baseball coach with ties to the
University of Houston, his wife, and daughter)
Christina Mauser (A woman’s basketball coach)
Ara Zobayan (The pilot)
Sarah and Payton Chester (A mother and daughter)

Parents, daughters, coaches, and a pilot were all gone in a split second. Parents, children, and
loved ones waiting at the sports complex for the helicopter carrying those nine individuals to
arrive got news they never will forget. “We regret to inform you that your loved ones have
perished in a helicopter crash.” Denial sets in first. Then unbelievable pain as reality comes into
focus. Shock takes over as one replays the last moments in their head to make sure this was not a
dream.  Finally, acceptance creeps in as tears begin to fall and questions that will never have
answers begin to form.

kobe 2

“Why them?”
”Why now?”
“Why so soon?”
“Why, why, and why?”

The “whys” come from the families, the friends, the colleagues, and the world. School officials
try explain to young minds not yet developed enough to understand the meaning of death.
Friends and colleagues try to comprehend what happened while families are just numb to it all.
Families from the same community are broken.
Sunday, January 26, 2020

The day was just an ordinary Sunday for me. I took pleasure in watching my son play on the
floor with his toys. I watched my wife prepare for an interview later that evening. The dogs were
running around, the sun was shining, and I was getting things lit on the grill as I prepared meat to
go on the pit. Playing in the background was a college basketball game when was Sunday was
interrupted. Big as day across my cell screen on TMZ’s twitter feed were the words, “Kobe
Bryant dies in a helicopter crash.”

But that can’t be, right? That can’t be real? He’s Kobe, the KOBE, Kobe doesn’t die, he goes on
to build movie studios or buy professional basketball teams. He watches his daughter take
women’s basketball to another level. I rubbed my eyes to refocus them and I take another look at
my phone.

“Kobe Bryant and Rick Fox die in a helicopter crash?” I say to myself.
Rick Fox?  Rick Fox and Kobe together? Wait! I look to see my wife, who is always up on
entertainment news, looking puzzled at the distraught look on my face, “What’s going on she
asks?” I show her my phone, she puts her hand over her mouth, grabs her own phone, and we
both shared the same flustered look.

“Oh my GOD, they’re saying all his daughters were on the plane!” We scroll social media feeds
looking for information, we turn on the news for confirmation. All the news is scattered with
differentiating details except one.
Kobe Bryant is dead at 41.

Is this real?

At some point, the realization sets in that Kobe Bryant, superstar player for the Los Angeles
Lakers, is, in fact, dead.

Rick Fox tweets he isn’t dead. More details emerge. It’s not Kobe’s entire family, which one can
be grateful for, but that is nothing to celebrate but rather something to which to be grateful.
However, one of Bryant princesses is gone, the one that loved basketball, Giana.

A girl and her dad

Giana, the middle child with the Mamba mentality, was the one to carry on the baller legacy. She
reintroduced her dad to basketball and gave him a new reason to love the game.  She was the one
he traveled with, trained, coached, and the one who was most like him. He wore #24 and as a
chip off the old block she dropped the #4 to just wear #2. She wanted to be just like him and he
wanted her to be better than him. We will never know her true potential. We will never see her
wear that #2 Husky jersey (Uconn was her favorite college team). We will never know her other
talents for young Giana would die alongside her father on the way to do something she loved and
what they shared.

Play in a basketball game.

The husband, The father, The man

The journalist in me knows I should tell you about all his basketball accomplishments. I should
talk about my favorite moment on the court when I knew he was my favorite player. I should
recall the championships, the awards, and other accolades but that was just a portion of the man
that a giant for more than basketball. The points, awards, and accomplishments seemed bigger
than life only to seem insignificant now.

I watched an interview he gave to high school kids when he was maybe twenty-one years old. He
told them how he defined success – working hard, finding a woman that you love, and having a
family that loves you back. One of the kids laughed and told him that made him soft.  Kobe
laughed back and told him, “I’d still whip your ass on the court.”
Those weren’t just words he said. That was his mantra. He married the love of his life, Vanessa,
and though some of their struggles were public knowledge they stayed the course and created
four beautiful daughters. His life with Vanessa and his daughters was everything to him. In fact,
it was one of the reasons he traveled by helicopter. He wanted to train like a beast but still
wanted to take and pick his daughters up from school. For ten years or more he’s been on
helicopters flying around LA like the Superman he was.

Kobe represents greatness to me. He was willing to walk away from everything after winning
three straight titles because he knew his legacy wasn’t complete unless he did it without Shaq.
He lost games and won games but didn’t stop until he was a champion again.
As men, we aren’t supposed to be emotional, especially not about a basketball player that we
only know from watching him on television. However, finding out Kobe died hurt me in a way
that has only hurt when I lost someone I loved.

I won’t apologize for being a fan, for appreciating greatness, for celebrating his Oscar win like it
was for all of us. Read the Instagram captions, read the articles, listen to the stories – He was an
amazing man. A man that lived his life without fear of failure, a man that was kind and courteous
to everyone he came across.

He wasn’t on a helicopter with an entourage or a security team. He wasn’t on his way to Vegas
or the Grammy’s. He was on a helicopter with coaches and parents who had a vast love for their
children on a Sunday morning going to support their kids at an AAU basketball game. Listen to
him talk about his daughter, listen to him talk about his players, listen to the way he spoke about
his daughter and listen to the love in all the answers.

 

His love for his children was great. In my heart, I believe his love for Vanessa was even greater
because she gave him that those girls he adored. I can’t begin to imagine how she feels now. You
lose a husband; a daughter and you have three other daughters at home that you have to explain
why daddy and their sister are not coming home. They don’t understand what’s going on or the
concept of death. You must be their rock of understanding, support, and love.  The world is
expecting you to be Jackie Kennedy, the gracious grieving window when all you want to do is
close your eyes, shut them out and hope what you are going through is just a very bad nightmare.

Vanessa doesn’t owe us anything. Instead, we owe her. We owe her thanks for all those nights
Kobe shared with us while missing out on quality family time. We owe a debt of gratitude for all
those times Kobe inspired our children instead of spending time with his own.
I’m thirty-six years old. Kobe was forty-one. This isn’t a case of me idolizing a man; this is the
case of me being proud of one. Kobe Bryant was one-of-a-kind.

A boy that had to learn how to be a man on camera;
A husband that had to learn how to love his wife in front of the world;
A once in a lifetime father that sometimes had to put his career before family;
A basketball great that made us believe we could do whatever it was we wanted to do in this
world.

At the tragic end of Kobe’s life, he was just beginning to start the next chapter of his life with his
philanthropic efforts. He was showing us that he was more than just basketball. He was revealing
his true character and grit proving that Kobe Bryant was bigger than basketball itself.
Long live the legend of Kobe Bryant.
Rest in peace Kobe, Giana, John, Keri, Alyssa, Christina, Sarah, Payton,

kobe 4

 

 

Boot Cut Jeans and Balenciaga’s; Don’t Worry About Her Ex

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything, I took off most of 2019 to get some more life experiences. I became a father, a husband, started a new career. I’m a firm believer that good writing not only comes from your imagination but from your experiences. I’m not TMZ or Baller Alert so don’t look at the pictures of celebrities and think you’re getting inside info or gossip. I’m only using them and their “alleged” altercation to talk to my guys out there that may be struggling with being the little spoon in the relationship.

Let me start by giving a little background. Meek Mill and Nicki Minaj were in a relationship, that’s pretty common knowledge. It ended, they went their separate ways. Both seem to be successful, prosperous and happy. Meek has a baby on the way, Nicki is newly married or engaged, I’m not sure which one, and life goes on. But like with most artist their content is fueled by their experiences.

Meek put out an song in which he might have intentionally or unintentionally gave one of the funniest lines of 2019. I’m bringing this back up because there was some sort of altercation between Nicki, Meek and her new man. In which a lot of people believe was in response to the lyrics below.

download

“This shit beyond me, you’re supposed to be my Beyoncé but now you this nigga fiancé?” Meek spits in the untitled song’s intro. “Fuck you mean you feel the connection? What? This nigga wears Balenciaga with boot-cut jeans. What the fuck is you losing your mind? Ayo call my fucking phone back yo.”

Now that I’ve given you all some background let me get to my point. The husband is already dealing with being married to one of the most popular women in the world. He’s getting critiqued and judged and talked about more than most humans will ever be. And now the ex that’s just as popular and successful is making fun of you in rap songs. He’s not a celebrity, he’s not a comedian, he’s not a guy that does skits on social media. He’s a street guy that happened to fall in love with a superstar.

Seeing Meek in that store made him want to show his wife and probably anyone that was looking that he’s no pushover. He can’t write raps but he can beat someone up. This is the problem, it’s unnecessary. You won.

You’re winning.

Meek made a song about wanting the woman that’s crazy about you back. Think about that for a second. The woman that wants to have your baby,, your last name, the woman that’s crazy about you, that’s the woman he’s begging to call him back. You don’t have to fight him, yell at him, defend your poor fashion sense. You walk over, shake his hand, smile and tell him, “Nicki told me a lot about you, it’s nice to meet you and guess what player, I ain’t wearing boot cut jeans no more.” Go back over to your wife, grab her ass and continue on with your day.

I’m using an example with celebrities but understand this applies to all of us. You know how many men lose a great woman or a woman they still want and they’re telling anyone that will listen how much of a downgrade her new man is. “He doesn’t have money like me. He’s not as tall as me. He isn’t as popular as me.” The list goes on but guess what the one thing is that he has and the old guy doesn’t? The one thing he wants, the woman. The woman that’s in love with you.

The ex wins when you get mad, when you argue with him or humor him. In the hood they have a saying, “don’t let people trick you off the streets.” It means that sometimes people will do whatever they can to make sure you lose even if it means they go down with you.

So to all my guys out there reading, be yourself and let the haters hate. Because in the end, as long as you have her, you’ve won.

nicki

Your Standards Aren’t too High; He’s Just Used to Women Lowering the Bar

So often when we have relationship conversations people use the extreme to get their point across. A man that doesn’t have money, a car, a home wants you to pick him up and take him on a date. Or it’s the other extreme where a man has this plethora of women and feels like he doesn’t have to try hard because he’s wealthy or successful. The simple truth is dating is like life, it’s more in the middle than it is any extremes.

You aren’t crazy for wanting a man to ask you out on a Wednesday. Call or text you early Saturday to confirm you’re still going out, tell you how you should dress for the atmosphere you’ll be in and give you options. It’s 2019, not every woman wants you to come to her home if she doesn’t know you. That’s why you ask. Would you like me to pick you up? Would you like to meet me? I can send you money for an Uber. None of these things are asking for too much, none of these are you saying, “My standards are here buddy.”

When you lower your standards to make a man feel comfortable, you’re making yourself feel uncomfortable. Don’t apologize for having standards because often times what you’re asking for isn’t even a lot. cropped-img_0118.jpg

A Real Conversation About Jamie and Cersei

After Sunday night I was just as disappointed in Game of Thrones as everyone else that watched it. It wasn’t that we weren’t expecting the results of Dany going crazy or Cersei and Jamie dying but it was how they got us to that point. It’s almost like they wrote this amazing novel and then got a text telling them to wrap it up in twenty five pages when they needed 200 pages.

I won’t focus on all the storylines and characters. I choose to focus only on two, Jamie and Cersei Lannister. I wrote on Facebook recently that I wanted a love like Jamie and Cersei and of course most of the comments were, “You want to sleep with your sister, ewwww.” I’m not talking to those people because those people are more than likely Hodor slow. Take the sibling part out of it, free your mind from that thought process. Just look at them as a man and a woman that grew up together.

Jamie is a man that literally did everything right is entire life. He honored his family, served his King and house proudly and had a reputation that most men could only dream of. It was only when he killed the King he was supposed to be protecting that he became “evil.” This is a guy who was never looked at as mean or evil before this. He was handsome, charming, funny and brave. One decision made him a villain.

Image result for jaime and cersei

When you become a villain you take solace in the people that know the real you. No one knows Jamie Lannister better than the woman he literally came into this world with. Their intimacy wasn’t backwoods incest or passion they couldn’t control. I’m not even sure it was love, I think it was need. The need to be intertwined with the only person that sees the real them.

Jamie’s entire arc on the show was about doing whatever to protect and get back to Cersei. We want him to be this guy that’s changed and a better man but he never changed. He was just humbled and needed to keep his word. He fought for the living out of honor, not a need to be better than he was. His entire life was about loyalty and honor.

Cersei on the other hand, her entire life was about family and power. She hated she wasn’t a man because she knew in her heart that had she been born Jamie she would be a king. Her love for Jamie was the only thing that filled the voids in her life. Not even her children who she loved to death could replace the person she came into this world with.

“I killed my cousin with my bear hands for Cersei. I pushed a boy out of a window crippling him for life for Cersei. I would have killed every man, woman and child in Riverrun for Cersei.” Those words, that passion, that need, that love. That doesn’t die over night because you want to be someone you’re not. Killing Cersei would have been killing his soulmate. They lived in a world where everyone hated them, everyone envied them, everyone desired them. In each other they had calm in the storm. I stand by what I said, there story is the perfect love story. And if you can’t get pass the whole sibling thing, you’re as basic as Hodor.

Stop Admiring the Green Grass Across the Street and Fertilize Your Own Lawn

One thing I see a lot of is people in relationships admiring other relationships from a distance. “Wow, I wish he treated me like her man treats her.” I see women in relationships envying their single friend.

“She gets to travel and do what she wants and date around. She’s got it good.” Meanwhile the single friend looks at her like, “Her man did what for her? She doesn’t even appreciate it, always complaining and feeling like she can do better.”

It’s a vicious cycle that boils down to one general consistent theme. Not appreciating what you have in front of you. We could blame it on social media but if you don’t think our parents and grandparents were going through the same thing you’re fooling yourself.

Fertilizer stinks, it’s messy, it’s heavy and it takes work. You need boots on, the dirt never gets out your nails and you’ll need to shower for an hour and pray for rain. But once you’ve done all that the Green Grass will come. When you’re busy admiring the grass across the street your grass is dying. They’ve put in work, they’ve gotten dirty to get their grass green. Meanwhile you’ve instagram’d a pic of your grass with a dozen filters. It looks amazing on that screen but in real life it’s more brown spots than you can imagine.

If there’s one thing I vowed to take with me into 2019 it’s knowing your value. I left a job with amazing people I’d been at for 15 years because they didn’t see my value. You can’t save dead grass. You have to rip it out and start over from the foundation. If you aren’t willing to do that, you don’t want the results.

Stop Underestimating How Important It Is to Like the Person You’re With

IMG_0001Love. Love is a word we love to use when describing relationships.

“When is the moment you realized you were in love with someone?”

“What do you love most about him or her?”

We are infatuated with romance and love stories, so much so that we forget liking someone is far more important than loving them. Love is emotional, passionate, an all encompassing feeling that can take over your entire life. Love can be based on how someone makes you feel sexually or spiritually. Love can come from someone being there for you when you were at your lowest and they saved you.

Love isn’t always forever. We aren’t robots, the same way you fall in love with someone, you can easily fall out of love with them. What’s just as important, if not more important, is liking the person you choose to give your heart to.

We all have bad habits, some of us leave hair in the sink, some of us leave clothes lying around. Others of us wake up with bad morning breath or bad attitudes. Either way the thing about liking a person is that you can deal with their “stuff.” We all have “stuff,” none of us are perfect but when you genuinely like someone, you can live with their stuff. You want to be around them even when that passion and intensity isn’t there.

For every romantic dinner and intense night of love making there’s five nights of “what are you we going to eat for dinner” and cramping. These are the nights where liking her makes you want to take care of her and go get food or cook because you know she doesn’t feel well. When she’s your friend it’s easy to do, when she’s your obligation you’ll still do it but it isn’t because you want to. It’s because you know you have to. And obligations have an expiration date.

Every man in the world gets annoyed at his woman. It can be her constantly being on the phone, it can be her leaving her clothes lying around the room and playing sick when you ask her to get them up. But liking her makes you laugh and smile at who she is. Liking her makes you forget about the mess and want to hold her, knowing that you can clean the house up over the weekend.

Love is that feeling that makes men tear down castles and write love songs that last a lifetime. But liking her is the feeling that makes you want to spend six hours in a car driving to New Orleans knowing that talking to her is better than anticipating her. One of the reasons we love the feeling of first meeting someone is that we get to anticipate them. The first kiss, the first shower, the first trip we take together. But you have to remember that there’s life after anticipation. The first time is sexy and fun, can it still be fun when it’s the 34th time?

Joe Budden was talking about his relationship with his son and he said something I’ll never forget. He said it’s just different when you love the mother of your child. It doesn’t mean that you love your child any less but the experience of each moment is just different. You’re sharing those moments in a way you can’t when you don’t love her, let alone like her.

Sorry I’ve been away for so long with the writing. I’m back.

Don’t Lose Yourself In the Expectation of Others

Don’t Lose Yourself In the Expectation of Others
One of the easiest things in the world is to allow the weight of expectations to leave a permanent imprint on your life. You can want so badly to do right by everyone else that you forget what makes you happy and even worse, maybe you never knew what made you happy in the first place.

For me it’s always been writing, it’s always come so natural to me that I don’t believe I appreciated it like I should have. Over the past couple years money has become the motivation and I will be the first to tell you. Every cliché quote you’ve ever heard about doing something for love vs. doing it for money is true.

When I was writing for love, writing for Facebook likes and blog likes and just wanting people to absorb my words, I could write all night. I could barely sleep because I was so excited just to wake up and put words on this computer screen. Once it became an obligation, once putting words on this computer screen became contracts and deadlines, I wasn’t so anxious to get up and write anymore.

What I had to learn, what I’m still learning is that I have to make time for the passion. I have to close the screens that I’m obligated to and open the screens I need. And if that isn’t a microcosm of life I don’t know what is.

It’s okay to take a break from your obligations and feed your soul.

I plan on doing a lot more of that in the year of 2019.

 

IMG_3740