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People deal with tragedy in different ways. Some yell, some cry, some sit in silence because the magnitude of what just happened hasn’t fully set in yet. On Sunday, the world lost nine people far too soon, including NBA legend Kobe Bryant, and his 13 year-old daughter Gianna. On Sunday, you might have experienced one or all of the emotions I previously mentioned and that’s ok. Like I said, people deal with tragedy in different ways.


The sports world was shaken as we lost one of its greatest players. A few hours later, it was shaken again when we learned the next greatest thing to happen to women’s basketball had her journey end before it ever really began. A father and a daughter, who shared such a special bond over the sport, on their way to do what they loved to do together… As a woman whose love for sports is because of her father, the aching in my heart is unbearable.


Sports and my father are synonymous, and I know that to be true for many of the women who share the same passion as me. I grew up a little differently than you would maybe expect a girl to, but to me it was totally natural. As a toddler, there were the small jerseys that lasted about 6 months until they were grown out of, but they always matched Dad so it didn’t matter. Around the age of 8, I was taught to read and pick apart defenses on Madden and in all honesty, I could do that better than my own homework (sorry Mom). At 13, the competitive fire I was raised with was growing inside of me which fueled my success as an athlete. Through all the ages and changes, the common denominator was dad; teaching me, coaching me, supporting me.


Now, read that same paragraph again, substitute the football references for basketball ones, and think of Kobe and Gianna Bryant. It seems almost impossible to do because the thought of two people sharing the same love for the game as you did (and do) with your father, losing it all in the blink of an eye… It’s harrowing.


For many people, sports are an escape from reality. The world is a noisy, cruel place, but for the minutes you have with a ball in your hand, it goes silent. Having someone to share it with is even more special. My heart breaks for all three girls who lost their lives. For their families, and especially their fathers. All the hours spent in the driveway, the gym, watching the pros do it… They weren’t all for nothing. You can be certain that Coach Mamba will have them ballin’ up in heaven, even matching them up with the greats who passed before them.


I can’t speak for everyone, and in reality these sentiments aren’t just for fathers and daughters, but if someone close to you influenced your love for the game, let them know. Hug just a little bit tighter. It could all be gone in an instant.


Image: @bosslogic on twitter