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Guest Commentary: Why Kobe Matters

A mother’s letter to her sons about the lessons learned from the basketball legend’s life

As a publicist, I have spent two decades representing, worrying about and doing my best to improve Philadelphia’s image.

I was in elementary school during the MOVE bombing, started my career during Ed Rendell’s terms as mayor and watched as the Sixers and their incredible leader Pat Croce united us as young professionals to believe in what someone, anyone, here in Philadelphia could accomplish.

Corie Moskow with her husband and sons. Photo: Corie Moskow

As a city we are caught between knowing we are good enough, and an incessant need to prove it to the world.

I live in Lower Merion and, yes, while that’s not technically Philadelphia, we are not just a city—we are a region, united by media outlets, teams and highways that make Philadelphia so much greater than the city proper.

As such, Kobe is ours. We loved him, we raised him and we really needed him.

I remember when my high school team played outside of our league, just to see what we could do against Lower Merion, which had a rock-star freshman who was sure to go pro.

Our own soon-to-be-pro, Alvin Williams, united us and we all watched as the Patriots and Aces elevated the high school game.

I never knew Kobe, but as a contemporary who hails from the community I live in, I’m feeling a sense of loss.

These are the accomplishments that I wish for you—to lead a life filled with camaraderie, community, connection, believing in yourself, challenging yourself and always writing your next story.

Now I am a mom to my own soon-to-be-high-school-basketball-player in the Lower Merion district, and wondering what to say to him and my fifth grade son so that we can take this tragedy and learn from it.

Here is what I came up with …

It’s 2020 and race is still a thing in Philadelphia. It should not be. Change that, starting now.

Love all people and connect with all people. Don’t just see color; see what’s good in people. Make racism disappear in your lifetime.

Poignantly, today is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Put an end to hatred everywhere you can, and always stand up against injustice.

Hard work pays off. We all have talents, but hard work makes the difference of where your unique talents will take you in life.

Read MoreAmerica is a very strange place right now—and sports have an exalted place. It unites us in a way that we as Philadelphians, Americans and humans truly need.

You’ve been lucky enough to feel the sense of community and jubilation that comes from winning a Super Bowl … and now you see the other side, when we need to connect with our neighbors for something that is so sad and tragic that everyone is feeling it together.

The flood of social media you are seeing from your friends on Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok is from kids who are proving the case that we need to connect and crave community.

The celebrities you see posting are people who feel deeply hurt that their friend is gone.

This is not just a tragedy because Kobe was a professional athlete. A lot of people cared a whole lot about him, because they really knew him.

America is a very strange place right now—and sports have an exalted place. It unites us in a way that we as Philadelphians, Americans and humans truly need.

If you are in someone’s life personally you likely matter to them in ways that you may not know. Tell people that you care about them and show people your unique kindness. This allows you to always be true to yourself.

I am your biggest fan. I love seeing you win games on your basketball and soccer teams. Do I think the Sixers will one day include you in the process that we are now trusting or the Union will add you to their roster? Probably not.

As a parent, Kobe’s later accomplishments interest me the most.

He was a founder of a venture fund, a funder of cool companies like Body Armor, a creator of art, an adept leader and a true friend.

These are the accomplishments that I wish for you—to lead a life filled with camaraderie, community, connection, believing in yourself, challenging yourself and always writing your next story.

Corie Moskow, president of Gloss PR, is The Citizen’s events manager.

Photo courtesy Alexandra Walt / Flickr

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