KARNES COUNTY – Last weekend, as I am sure you are aware, was a somber time. On Sunday, Jan. 26, Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were tragically killed in a helicopter crash in the Los Angeles area. 

Bryant was 41. He left behind his wife, Vanessa, and their three remaining daughters.

As a Spurs fan myself, I was admittedly never a fan of the “Black Mamba” or the Lakers, as far as that rivalry went. But, his impact he left on the game and society at large is outstanding. 

Bryant helped the Lakers win five NBA titles, matching the Spurs and Tim Duncan in that regard, and no doubt his two numbers (8 and 24) will someday be retired in the rafters of the Staples Center.

However, it cannot be ignored that he was not without his flaws, as was made apparent during his 2003 sexual assault case that ended up being settled out of court.

Through it all, the biggest tragedy was the sudden nature of the accident, and the way the news spread on social media and the television airwaves. 

The fact that TMZ beat the Los Angeles Co. Sheriff’s Office to alerting the Bryant family of their deaths is, quite frankly, a blight upon our profession as journalists. 

The race to “be first” should not outweigh minimizing harm and having some tact. However, in spite of the negatives, there is one positive that can come from this:


Bryant’s passing is a stark reminder of how frail and fragile our lives, our mortality, truly are. The fact that he was 41 just shows how much more life after basketball awaited him were it not for this.

So, I implore you, reach out to your loved ones. Your friends, your colleagues, your family, tell them all what they mean to you. Cherish the moments you have. 

The only thing dependable about the future is uncertainty.

James Ratcliff is a high school sports contributor for The Karnes Countywide. He can be reached at 830-216-3864.