Kobe Bryant’s Death Made Us Put Down Our Phones and Reconnect in Real Life

The tragic news of Kobe Bryant’s passing, along with his daughter and seven others in a fatal helicopter crash, has done something unheard of. His passing has brought the digital world… back into the physical.

People are mourning IRL. Face to face. Actually talking to each other for the first time in what feels like forever.

When the news broke on TMZ, I was sitting in a café during one of the busiest hours in Los Angeles. Brunch on a Sunday with every table filled and a line out the door of the establishment.

“Hey, did you hear about this?” one person at the table next to us said to a stranger seated at the next.

“Kobe Bryant just died!” a server said to someone else.

“There was a helicopter accident!” I heard from a couple tables behind us.

“I can’t believe this,” another woman said, sobbing. “This can’t be real!”

For the first time in my adult life, I heard people actually speaking to each other. Strangers were reaching out to one another for support.

All the comments which might’ve been written on social media had been spoken out in the real world, and people were conversing again as if we lived in the time before the internet.

And this was the norm in the entire Los Angeles area where Bryant lived with his wife and daughters. Many couldn’t believe the news was real at first, and mourning Bryant and his daughter brought the community together.

News of Bryant’s death quickly swept across Los Angeles and people came together at the Staples Center to celebrate the man idolized by so many. At the LAX airport, the city honored Bryant by changing the colors of the pillars to purple and yellow, his team colors while he played for the Lakers.

As reported by the LA Times, “During a dress rehearsal for the Grammys, people had started to whisper and check their phones. Did you see the news, they asked one another. It’s Kobe. TMZ is saying he’s dead.”

Bryant was on his way to a youth basketball game with his thirteen-year-old daughter Gianna when the crash occurred. Though investigations are ongoing, there have been eyewitnesses from the ground stating they heard what sounded like sputtering before the helicopter descended and crashed. Many are blaming the foggy conditions in the LA skies, though others are saying there might have been mechanical issues with the helicopter itself.

But as more news comes out, people are not just posting on social media, they’re relaying it to their friends, their family, and other fans. In a world so focused on what we put on our screens, Bryant’s death has made us look up and focus on what’s on people’s faces.

Bryant was known for infusing emotion into the city to which he brought five championships, with victory parades bringing out joy and elation. Sadly, now the emotions are of a different sort, but we band together just as strongly, to remember the man who brought us together to begin with.

If you would like to hear more, Brian Windhorst, Dave McMenamin, and J.A. Adande have an episode looking back on their favorite moments with Bryant in this podcast.

About the Author

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Rachel Goodman

Rachel Goodman is a Los Angeles based actress, host, and writer originally from a suburb of Philadelphia, PA. In college, Rachel wrote for the Penn State Abington Literary Review and was an editorialist for The Lion's Roar and The Montgomery County Ticket.