April 13 is the anniversary of the final game Kobe Bryant played for the Los Angeles Lakers, but it’s also a significant date in his career for another reason: It’s the day Bryant, candid and grieving after tearing his Achilles, decided to vent about what he was going through on his Facebook page.
Earlier this week was the seven-year anniversary of that inspiring post, in which Bryant completely let his guard down in a winding, 333-word missive in which he considered whether this would be the end of his career before memorably vowing to fight back from the adversity.
The shared adversity our society is dealing with now in the form of the coronavirus is obviously much different, but it’s still a heartening reminder that no matter what we’re all going through right now, no matter how much it hurts, we have to fight:
I remember the morning that Bryant posted this at 3:36 a.m. distinctly. I wasn’t awake when it went up, but when I did get up, I was in a fog, having stayed up late watching him talk after the game the night before, as devastated as every other Lakers fan was that a season from hell that had just seemed to be turning around at the right time through the sheer force of Bryant’s will had been ripped away once again. We were Charlie Brown, and fate in the form of Lucy had just ripped away the football one more time.
The post made me realize, though, that wallowing in my feelings shouldn’t be an option, certainly not if Bryant was so publicly pushing back on his own urges to do so. It was his Achilles, after all. It’s a mindset I’m sure a lot of us have tried to take in every setback any of us have suffered since, distilled really well in this specific part:
“If you see me in a fight with a bear, prey for the bear”. Ive always loved that quote. Thats “mamba mentality” we don’t quit, we don’t cower, we don’t run. We endure and conquer.
We’ll have to excuse the hospital drugs-fueled “prey/pray” typo there, but the point stands. That’s the mentality that Bryant always advocated for, distilled down as succinctly as possible. It didn’t always result in victory for him or the Lakers, but it’s the mantra he stuck to, time and time again, and a mantra that can help us all get through hard times.
We may not, as a planet, have all torn our Achilles, but at the very least we’ve had it exposed to an enemy we didn’t see coming. The bear is here. But don’t pray for it. Pray for us. If we all stick together, hopefully we can kick its ass.