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Tragic loss of a sports super star

Like most sports fans, I was gut-punched Sunday when I heard the news of the death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

He was an Olympian, an All-Star, a champion, a father, a husband and an entrepreneur. For someone who had a 20-year career in the NBA, hundreds of millions of dollars and an unfathomable level of fame around the world, he always woke up every morning with something to prove.

One of my favorite podcasts, “The Corps”, is hosted by Dan “Big Cat” Katz (of Barstool Sports and “Pardon My Take” fame) and former MLB star and entrepreneur Alex Rodriguez. The two interview the greatest athletes, businessmen, inventors and creative thinkers in the world, hearing their stories of success and asking questions to peel back the layers of their lives. One of the episodes from the most recent season featured Kobe.

It was an incredible interview, and by the end I was an even bigger Kobe fan than I’ve ever been. His discipline, competitive drive and constant pursuit of improvement was inspiring. For Kobe, if his next 20 years aren’t better than the last 20 years, he would consider his life a failure. How can a five-time NBA champion say such a thing? Well, it’s simply because he always wanted to be better than he was yesterday.

Unfortunately, Kobe won’t get the chance to pursue greater heights than ever before. His daughter will never be able to live out her dreams and pursue her passions. It’s truly a tragedy. But don’t think for a second Kobe Bryant will ever die. He may not be on this earth anymore, but this tragic death will ensure his name is immortalized.

I’m known around the office to shoot a large amount of balled-up paper into waste baskets. Sometimes I yell, “KOBE!” In my mind, it always was more likely to go in when I did. Kobe was obviously a lot better at draining 3-pointers than I am, but I always get a little boost of confidence when I say it. I have a feeling a lot of folks will be shooting their paper waste like he did over the next few weeks.

R.I.P. Kobe and Gianna.