• jstrupek

What about our future Kobes?

Originally published January 29, 2020

This weekend the world lost an NBA giant, a player of such talent and abilities he left a permanent mark on the sport and inspired millions through his play. But what about the deaths

of those who never had a chance to be a Kobe? We mourn the loss of celebrity athletes and artists who touch and inspire us, but look past the seemingly endless headlines announcing another child struck done by gun violence. Children who never had the chance to be a husband or wife, mother or father, let alone a famous athlete, singer, actor, or writer.

The tragic helicopter crash that took the lives of nine people, including Kobe and his daughter Gianna, occurred on Sunday, January 29. Also, on Sunday, nine-year-old Giovanni Tambino was shot and killed in Newburgh, New York. He died along with two adults. The motive is still under investigation, but there was a relationship between the victims and the shooter. In Elk Grove, California, a man shot and killed his two-year-old son then took his own life.

Part of Kobe’s legend is his exit from Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, directly into the NBA. On February 14, 2018, 14 students entered Marjory Stoneham Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and never left. Victims of the deadliest high school shooting since Columbine, Colorado. There, on April 20, 1999, 12 students died, not including the two who engineered the massacre. Twenty-six students whose chances to win NBA championships, earn Academy Awards or Pulitzers or have children of their own, were destroyed by a bullet. In Newtown, Connecticut, there were 20 children who never even made it to high school, shot and killed on December 14, 2012, in Sandy Hook Elementary School. The scores of children whose lives were cut short by gun violence is gut-wrenching.

There’s already talk Sunday’s crash is putting a focus on helicopter safety. It’s not hard to imagine some new rule or regulation will result. It might even be called Kobe’s law. The people involved will congratulate themselves and take pride in their accomplishment. It may save lives. Fifty-one people in the United States died from helicopter crashes in 2019. There were 983 children ages 0-17 killed by gun violence.

Helicopters aren’t guns but all deaths are tragic. Any we can prevent are gifts.

When are we going to recognize the gifts of all those potential Kobes who are victims of gun violence and give them the same chance he had.