Kobe “Mamba” Bryant

Yesterday the tragic news came across the wire that NBA legend, 41 year old superstar, had been killed in a helicopter crash along with his daughter and 7 others. Tragic. Unreal. Honestly, for a few minutes, I was expecting this to be “fake news” kind of like the Tom Hanks or Will Smith death deal or a handful of others. But it wasn’t. It WAS real. Kobe Bryant is dead.

I watched on social media as the tributes began to pour in. Many of the NBA games gave tearful tributes. This morning those on ESPN radio tried to put into words the scope of the situation and the man. The word that kept coming up many times in all of those scenarios was IMPACT.

Kobe had IMPACT.

He had IMPACT on the game of basketball. He was the “Mamba.” He was the cool, ice-in-his-veins closer. He was clutch. He had a work ethic and drive that was second to none. Now, I grew up during the Jordan era, so Jordan will always be the GOAT to me, but ask a generation behind me who they loved to watch and 9 out of 10 will say Kobe. So much so that when they throw away their trash in the trash can they shoot it like a basketball and yell “Kobe.”

He had many of accolades to his name inside the game…

– 5-time NBA Champion

-2-time finals MVP

-League MVP

-2-time Olympic Gold Medalist

– 18-time NBA All-Star

– 4-time NBA All-Star Game MVP

– 11-time All-NBA First Team

– 2-time All-NBA Second Team

– 2-time All-NBA Third Team

– 9-time NBA All-Defensive First Team

3-time NBA All-Defensive Second Team

– 2-time NBA scoring champion

– NBA Slam Dunk champion

– NBA All-Rookie Second Team

– Los Angeles Lakers’ all-time leading scorer

– Naismith Prep Player of the Year

That is quite an IMPACT. So many of today’s young stars were mentored by him. They looked up to him. They imitated, but hardly ever duplicated him. On the court he was a giant. A legend.

Off the court was much of the same. In his later years leading up to his retirement, he began to focus on his family (pictured above). He wasn’t perfect and he knew it. He even owned it. But he was determined to be a husband and father that would make an impact on his family. He also began to make an impact off of the court in various other ways.

-He founded the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation.

-He founded a charitable organization to help homeless youth in Los Angeles.

-He was a national ambassador for “After-School All-Stars” an organization that promotes academic success for the nation’s youth

-He donated $1 Million dollars through his foundation for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture

-He donated books to Lebron James’ “I Promise School”

-He was actively involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation

And quite honestly the list goes on and on. He did a lot. He won a lot. He gave a lot. He even won an Oscar for his short film “Dear Basketball.” The IMPACT he made in the world is much like a boulder being thrown into a glassy, still lake. It hit hard, made a big splash, and the ripples will continue for years to come.

So how do we process this? For me, today, it is the word IMPACT. Now, for certain, I will never be a Kobe. Nobody is going to call me Mamba. I don’t have the skill set, platform, or circle of influence that Mr. Bryant had. But can I learn from him? Yes. And so can you. You see, the size of the boulder dropping into the water does not matter. Every boulder, every rock, every pebble has IMPACT. The ripples happen even if the splash is not as big.

So I ask myself today. Am I making an impact? Am I making a difference? For me, it comes down to purpose. My purpose comes from God and was planned for me long before I showed up.

God said to Jeremiah, (and to each one of us who follow Him)

“I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

Don’t believe me? Look at what was written by Paul years later about those of us who are saved by the blood of Christ and make Him Lord of our lives…

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

You see, as a follower of Christ, we were designed with purpose in mind and we were created to make an IMPACT.

We don’t make an IMPACT for ourselves. We don’t strive to make our name great. We take what God has given us – the mind, the body, the skills, the talents, the gifts, the passion – and we use it to declare His glory and His story! Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5 that the reason we do this is because “Christ love compels us.”

So you may not have a name that everyone knows. But you have a God that knows you! He desires to use you to make an IMPACT that has eternal consequences. You might be reading this and thinking, “that is great, and I want to believe it, but where do I start?” Start at the point of IMPACT. Where the rock hits the water. Where God has placed you. Your family. Your wife. Your kids. Lead them to Jesus. Your workplace. Shine bright for Jesus. Your church. Serve Jesus and others. Your community. Be a light in a dark place wherever you go. You see how the ripples begin to move out? Can you feel it? The IMPACT is real no matter how small you think it is!

So hit that water hard today and let’s make an IMPACT for the Christ!

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