Sunday, June 13, 2021

Ed Gray, NDG Senior Columnist: Kobe the Father

One of the final photos shared via Kobe Bryant’s Instagram page featured his wife Vanessa and four daughters during the holiday season. (Image via Instagram).

Straight Talk with Ed Gray

Kobe Bryant’s tragic passing is more than the death of a basketball legend. The legendary basketball player leaves behind a wife and three children. He also leaves a nation in mourning, stunned as if we lost a member of our own family.

Perhaps it was the suddenness of his death that captures us. The calm Sunday interrupted by the newscast announcement Kobe, his daughter, and friends were snatched from us by the Angel of Death. This is a reminder to us all – though we lift our gods upon the pulpit of popularity, God is the ultimate arbiter of our time.

Yes, we are reminded of the majestic play of a man who was a basketball phenom for his time on Earth. Too good for college, straight to the pros, a two-time Olympian, NBA scoring champion, NBA All-Star, world champion, the accolades go on and on.

However, the title to emphasize more is he was a son, husband, father, and friend. Therefore, his death affects us all because we are all touched by the loss of family. Kobe becomes a member of our family.

A black man whose lingering photos show love for family. The pictures of Kobe and his daughter, Gianna, offer a testament to the strength of black men. In a time in which African-American men are routinely labeled as irresponsible and negligent, Kobe is the anthesis of the stereotype. Kobe Bryant stands as man and father. Standing in the gap for those who have fallen from the standard of responsibility.

I celebrate Kobe’s life not as a basketball player, though indeed he was a great basketball player. His greatness is exemplified in photos demonstrating black male strength, not a jump shot, but instead nurturing his family.

As a testament to this, he spent his final time on Earth with his daughter Gianna. Family is all we have left after the work hour is ended. The God that called Kobe will undoubtedly call each of us home. To be with family in our last hours is the call, many of us will ultimately answer. Kobe, in his final moments of life, defined us; the love of family makes us all All-Stars.

I will forever be touched by Kobe’s passing. However, I rejoice at the moment he represented for black males. The relationship with his wife and his four girls. Perhaps that’s my bond with Kobe, we were both black men who have four girls.

Rest in Peace, Kobe. Rest in Peace, Gianna. Rest in Peace to all those who perished.

I am Ed Gray, and this is Straight Talk.

Ed Gray is a presidential scholar at Southern Methodist University. He is the host of The Commish Radio Show airing Saturdays 3-5 p.m. on, can be reached at NDG was awarded NNPA’s 2018 Robert S. Abbott Best Editorial for Gray’s “Confederate Statues: The White Man’s Burden” column.


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