On January 6, 2020, basketball kobe fans were shocked to learn that basketball superstar, Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi, had been killed in a helicopter crash.
Coping With the Loss
As the shock of the 41-year-old’s death began to sink in, fans began trying to make sense of the event by creating artwork and videos of the star and his daughter, by sharing personal stories about encounters with him, by leaving flowers at the Staples Center.
His life and death affected just about everyone, it seems. Even former US President Barack Obama weighed in on Bryant’s death, commenting about how parents passed their hopes and dreams onto their kids. With both Kobe and his daughter taken by the same event, that chance was taken.
Grief has stages, and even though Kobe Bryant was not someone that most fans knew personally, they still mourn his loss. They’ll miss what he stood for: his commitment to excellence, his drive, his talent. As such, they mourn his loss just like they’d mourn the loss of a close friend and mentor.
To be worked through, grief needs to be externalized. This allows people to get clarity and to lessen the overwhelm they feel.
Some Kobe fans do this by buying T-Shirts and hoodies with his shirt numbers, eight and 24, on them. By wearing his mantle, they are becoming the warrior they admired so much. They can externalize the admiration they have for him and share it with others.
Committed to Winning
Other fans want something smaller to carry around with them to places where perhaps a basketball shirt might not be appropriate, like at work. In these circumstances, fans like these may turn to smaller collectibles in order to continue feeling a connection to him.
It’s a common phenomenon in fandom. According to Just Collecting, that’s the reason why people collect movie memorabilia. They want to recreate the heightened emotions they felt as they sat in the dark and journeyed alongside their favorite characters.
The frenetic, in-your-face pace of professional sports creates the same feelings in fans. Fans of Kobe Bryant’s life and work want to continue to feel inspired by the inspiring pace of his life, to continue journeying along with him on the road to excellence.
As Bryant once said, “If you’re a fan of mine, you’re a fan of winning.”