In Memoriam: Kobe and Gianna Bryant

Last week was a long one, y’all.

I’m not a huge basketball fan, so my introduction to Kobe Bryant wasn’t on the court.  I first heard of him because circa 1996, Kobe asked Brandy (who ruled the black teen world in the mid to late ’90s) to be his prom date, and the media had a field day.

Kobe and Brandy at Prom (Alt)Kobe and Brandy at Prom 2 (Alt)

I didn’t get what the big deal was at first, but I soon learned that Kobe was a high school basketball phenom and a likely NBA draft pick.  I remember seeing him and thinking he was super cute and seemed like a sweet young man.  Plus, he was just a few years older than me, and he was already about to go to the NBA.  I thought that was really cool.

Soon after the famed prom date, Kobe had a guest spot on Brandy’s hit TV show, Moesha (personally, I’ll never forget his guest spot on In the House.  I loved that show, and that ep was one of my favorites!).  I found myself hoping the two of them would end up being an item—after all, they were so cute together—but it never happened.  At the time, Brandy only had eyes for Wanya of Boyz II Men.  As fate would have it, a few years later, Kobe met and married Vanessa Bryant (neé Laine) and had four daughters, including Gianna, who wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and be a basketball player.

Kobe Family Photo (Alt)

Kobe went through some up and downs through the next decade or so:   the back and forth between him and Shaq, the sexual assault case and the issues in his marriage.  Despite all that, his basketball career continued to flourish.  Kobe won five NBA titles and was named MVP in 2009 and 2010, as well as being considered overall MVP in 2008.  He was invited to play in the NBA All-Star Game 11 times and won two gold medals for Team USA at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics.  Eventually, all the things in his personal life became better as well.  He and his wife repaired their relationship, his sexual assault case was dismissed, and he and Shaq made amends.

Finally, in 2016, Kobe retired.  I watched his last game, hoping to get a peek of O’Shea Jackson, Jr. sitting courtside (I LOVE that man and he’s the biggest Kobe fan ever).  Even though I didn’t see O’Shea—turns out he was sitting in the box—what I witnessed was a lot more stellar.  Kobe scored 60 points during the game, and led the Lakers to victory that night.  His game was amazing, and I found myself cheering.  Again, I’m not the biggest basketball fan, but that game was spectacular; a perfect finish to a stellar career.  For me, the best part was watching Kobe celebrate his final basketball win with his wife and kids.

A few years later, Kobe embarked on a new project.  It was a short animated film entitled Dear Basketball, which was basically Kobe’s personal love letter to the sport he adored.  Kobe found himself making headlines once again when he won an Oscar for his endeavors.   There were some folks on Twitter that wanted to dump on Kobe’s achievements by bringing up the sexual assault allegations—yes, the same case from 2003—but that still did nothing to ruin the achievement Kobe made.

In the last few years, Kobe coached Gianna aka Gigi’s basketball team and would often be seen with her watching pro games courtside.  It’s been said that Gigi wanted to play for the University of Connecticut when she got older and later for the WNBA.  Her and Kobe’s shared love of the game formed an intense father-daughter bond between them that would never be broken.

Kobe and Gianna 4 (Alt)

Sadly, on the way to Gigi’s basketball game last Sunday afternoon, Kobe and his little girl perished along with 7 other people in a helicopter crash.  When I first heard the news on Twitter, I couldn’t believe it.  Kobe was so young, and had so much life ahead of him.  Then when I learned that poor Gianna was on board and lost her life before even having a chance to really live, it made me even sadder.

Kobe achieved so much in his 41 years, and he lived his life to the fullest.  I’m just so sorry his family has to go through so much hurt and pain of losing a son and a granddaughter, a husband and a daughter…a father and a sister.

I’ve known this for years, but this tragedy really brought it home for me:  never take the people you love for granted.  Tell them you love them.  Spend time with them.  Call them up, or at the very least, send a text.  On top of that, spend each day being the best you you can be and always be appreciative for what you have.  That might sound corny as all hell, but it’s pure truth.

May God bless the Bryant family and all the families that lost their loved ones last Sunday.  🙏🏽

Kobe and Gianna 3 (Alt)

Kobe Bean Bryant:  August 23, 1978 – January 26, 2020

Gianna Marie-Onore Bryant:  May 1, 2006 – January 26, 2020

—Written by Nadiya

Clemson Dominates the 2019 Championship Game!

Hey, y’all!  This is another short and sweet post; I just wanted to give a shout out to my alma mater, Clemson University for absolutely killin’ the boys of Alabama last night (Monday Jan. 9, 2019) during the 2019 National College Football Championship!  My team was trending on Twitter from about 8:00 PM EST last night, up until 12:00 PM this afternoon:

clemson trending

The Tigers beat the Crimson Tide 44 – 16, in a game that showcased the brilliance of the defensive line as well as Dabo Swinney’s coaching ability.  Alabama shouldn’t feel too bad, though (although we skunked them this go around).  Their game wasn’t bad…it’s just that we’re that damn good.  I have to say though, that fake field goal they tried to pull off was the epic fail of epic fails.  Despite that, the only one that should be embarrassed about last night’s performance is Lil’ Wayne for wearing that monstrosity of a Hamburglar costume.

2019 ESPN College Football Playoff Halftime Performance

Sorry, Wheezy.  😹😹

Anyway, congrats to my boys!  Somebody cue “We Are the Champions”!  #ALLIN

On a side note, I wanna wish a happy 72nd birthday to the late, great David Bowie!  We still miss you, sir!

mr. bowie in 1969 (alt)

—Written by Nadiya

Any Clemson fans and/or alumni out there?  What about Alabama?  Anyone out there a fan/alum of the Crimson Tide?  If you watched the game, what did you think about Lil’ Wayne’s outfit? 😂😂  Who else is celebrating Mr. Bowie’s birthday?  Let me know in the comments section!

Colin Kaepernick Is the New Face of Nike’s “Just Do It” Campaign – My Thoughts

Last Monday (Sept. 3, 2018), it was announced that none other than NFL player Colin Kaepernick would be the face of Nike’s “Just Do It “30th-anniversary campaign.

Colin Kaepernick - Just Do It (Alt)

Now, unless you’ve been living under a rock, or you’ve been the 21st-century version of Rip Van Winkle, you know that Colin Kaepernick has been an extremely controversial figure as of late.  He’s the football player that began the silent protest of kneeling while The National Anthem is played during games, as a rally against police violence towards unarmed African-Americans.  The protest caused division between many people, with some seeing Colin as a courageous hero, and others thinking he’ s showing blatant disrespect to the flag and the country’s veterans.  Colin kneeling during games has stirred up so much controversy, that he hasn’t played for a team since being cut from the San Francisco 49ers in 2016, and he is still going toe-to-toe with the NFL to get his career going again.

Needless to say, the second the news hit, Colin and Nike were trending on Twitter, and remained a trending topic well into the very next day.  There was even talk of a Nike boycott (which also became a trending topic).

Kaepernick Trending

Now for my thoughts…I’m happy that Nike chose Colin Kaepernick to headline their campaign.  I’m sure this opinion may anger a few people, and I may even lose a few followers, but I’ve always said that with this blog, I’m going to keep it 100%, and I’m doing just that.  Why I am happy that Colin is being endorsed by Nike?  Because Colin Kaepernick is a brave soul that’s standing up for an egregious injustice that’s been happening in this country for far too long, and I will always love him for that.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams

I’ve seen many arguments over the years stating that the black men that have been shot by police officers could’ve easily avoided their fates if they had just cooperated with police, or didn’t make any sudden moves, or hadn’t been breaking the law in the first place.  However, I find it funny that Dylann Roof was quietly taken into custody after slaughtering nine innocent people in a church (he was still armed with a weapon when he was taken into custody, according to CNN), but Stephon Clark was gunned down in his grandmother’s backyard for breaking car windows.  Clark was only armed with a cellphone.   Travis Reinking, also known as “The Waffle House Shooter,” killed four people at the restaurant and was found the next day, also armed with a weapon.  He was arrested without incident.  A year and a half earlier, a policeman pulled Philando Castile over for a routine traffic stop.  Castile informed the cop that he had a licensed firearm, but when he reached to get his license as the policemen instructed him to, the cop opened fire seven times. Castile died in front of the mother of his child, and his 4-year-old daughterThe officer was later acquitted.

Even if someone wants to argue regarding the cases of Stephon Clark, Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling or any other black man (or woman; see Sandra Bland) that’s been shot and/or killed by police, it’s pretty hard to argue regarding the case of Tamir Rice.  Tamir was a 12 yr. old child that was killed after the police mistook his toy gun for a real one.  I feel like if Travis Reinking and Dylann Roof could’ve been safely placed in police custody after viciously snuffing out innocent people, at the very least, Tamir could’ve gone back home to his family with a stern warning not to fool around with a realistic looking gun.

To add insult to injury, lately there’s been an epidemic of people calling the cops on unarmed black folks—knowing what the possible outcome could be—simply for living their lives.  Apparently, black people nowadays aren’t allowed to:

The sad thing is that a lot of these aforementioned incidents involved the police being called on young children, ranging in age from eight to 15.

Colin Kaepernick

These are all the reasons (and there’s so many others I don’t have time to name) Kap knelt for the National Anthem, and it’s the reason other players have been encouraged to kneel.  He’s not disrespecting the flag or the military.  To be honest, when the news first hit that Colin would headline the “Just Do It” campaign, I noticed that many men and women that served the country—both black and white—let it be known that they supported Colin’s cause and understood what it was for.  Our country was founded on the mantra of “liberty and justice for all,” and that “all men are created equal.”  It’s time the United States of America lives up to those standards.  I’m glad Nike sees that, and I’m glad that Colin Kaepernick is the face of their campaign.

#IStandWithKap

—-Written by Nadiya

What do you think about Colin Kaepernick being the face of the 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign?  Do you believe his protest is disrespectful to the flag and the military, or do you believe he’s fighting for the rights of African-Americans?  Do you believe that people unjustly call the police on black people for simply living, or are the people contacting the cops justified?  Also, do you believe the recent police shootings are lawful, or not?  Let me know in the comments section!