Faith and family saved Kobe Bryant

Published February 1, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin



Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD
Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

An overwhelming majority of people worldwide know of Kobe Bryant as one of the greatest athletes of all times. Very few, however, know about his exemplary life as a Catholic and how it helped him in his darkest moment.

He started playing in the NBA at the age of 17 and eventually married Vanessa Laine in California. Bryant was at the top of his career and everything was going very smoothly.

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But in 2003, he stumbled. Kobe was accused of raping a woman while he was under treatment for knee surgery in Colorado, USA. He admitted having an affair with the woman but denied rape. The judge eventually dropped the charges and the case was settled extra-judicially.

The incident had serious repercussions as numerous sponsors abandoned him and his reputation suffered badly. This reached a point when Vanessa filed for divorce in 2011.

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Kobe thought it was the end of the road. But it wasn’t. He issued a public apology, stating that he was sincerely ashamed of what he had done.

A long marital healing process took place and, like the Prodigal Son, he painstakingly returned, begging forgiveness from his family.

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Philip Kosloski, a remarkable writer for global “Aleteia” internet magazine, puts it beautifully: “Kobe explained: ‘The one thing that really helped me during that process — I’m Catholic, grew up Catholic, my kids are Catholic — was talking to a Catholic priest who said, ‘God’s not going to give you anything you can’t handle, and it’s in his hands now. This is something you can’t control. So let it go.’ And that was the turning point.”

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Following the reconciliation, Kosloski averred, “Together they have founded the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation (KVBFF), which is dedicated to, among other things, helping young people in need and assisting the homeless.

In one of his several visits to the Philippines, he together with his team mates, Lakers, donated a large hall with basketball gym in Valenzuela, Bulacan

“Asked about his social commitments, Bryant’s answer would likely have made Pope Francis very happy.

“My career is winding down. At the end of my career, I don’t want to look back and just say, “Well, I had a successful career because I won so many championships and scored so many points.’  There’s something else that you have to do with that.

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“[On the issue of homelessness], it’s easy to point the blame at those who are homeless and say, ‘Well, you made that bad decision. This is where you are. It’s your fault.’ In life, we all make mistakes and to stand back and allow someone to live that way and kind of wash your hands of it … that’s not right.

“Throughout all of his trials, Bryant has realized that fame and fortune were nothing compared to the importance of faith and family. When everyone else in the world abandoned him, the Catholic Church was always there.”

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On the fateful morning of January 26, Kobe and 13-year-old daughter, Giana, attended the 7 a.m. Sunday Mass at the Our Lady Queen of Angels in Newport Beach, California. Kobe and daughter left the church, boarded the S-76 Sikorsky helicopter, and gloriously went hometothe Heavenly Father. GODSPEED, KOBE!

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Today is the church’s feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple and Purification of Mother Mary.

According to the Mosaic Law, “Every first-born male shall be consecrated to the Lord” after offering  in sacrifice a pair of turtledoves.

On this occasion, the mother was to be ritually purified 40 days after childbirth.

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Despite Jesus’ divine origin, his parents submitted to the law. They never claimed any special privilege.

Once a priest was hearing confession in church. At the end of a long queue, he saw a high-ranking government official. The priest went out of the confessional box and invited him to confess ahead of the others.

The official replied, “It’s allright, Father; the others came ahead of me. When I’m outside my office, I’m just an ordinary person.”

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The example of that official is a trenchant lesson that officials and superiors should not abuse their positions, demanding VIP treatment. More than that, men and women of authority like policemen and politicians should not abuse their subjects and lowly constituents.

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If Jesus, Mary, and Joseph exemplified humility and submission to the law, how much more we poor human mortals!