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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Barrientos

For The Love of Kobe Bryant

On Sunday January 26th, Los Angeles was preparing for a night of high fashion, recognition and awards. The entire world was shocked to find out Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant and seven others passed away in a helicopter crash that morning. I was at brunch with a couple girlfriends when my best friend facetimed me and hit me with the news. We were all instantly stunned. I couldn’t believe it and told her I had to hang up. My girlfriends and I each called a family member that very moment. I instantly called my older brother, who is the biggest Kobe fan I know. The moment I answered I was like “BRO” and he’s like “I know; I can’t talk about this right now, it’s too much for me”. I just needed to know that he knew and I said, “Alright, love you, bye”. Basketball has always been one of our biggest bonds, my brother is the one that made me not just a Laker fan, but a Kobe fanatic. I tried to go on twitter afterwards and all I saw was talk about Kobe and the incident. It was too much for me to handle at the moment, I had to log off.

The 62nd annual Grammy Awards were scheduled to happen that night at the Staples center. A memorable moment from the night was when Alicia Keys opened up the night paying tribute to Kobe Bryant by say some endearing words and singing an acapella version of “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye to Yesterday” accompanied by Boyz II Men. The night continued by many other artists recognizing him and sharing their condolences when receiving awards and getting interviewed.

Seems like due to the tragedy that ocurred, the negative attention that the Grammy’s received beforehand had disappeared. All people wanted to do was celebrate the legacy that Kobe created.

This tragedy and the Grammy’s made me think about the power of the media and the dynamics that public relations play in these circumstances. The Grammy’s was having controversy beforehand because many artists and music critics have called out the integrity of the nomination and award process along with not having crowd diversity within attendees. Tyler the Creator and Diddy still ended up putting in their two cents about the politics of the Grammy’s and how the Black community continues to not get the respect and recognition they deserve in the music world.

Times like these reveal the ethics of brands and news outlets. The first things that disturbed me and many others was finding out that TMZ leaked the news of the helicopter crash before the Bryant family was notified of the tragedy. After seeing that I was just dreading for the next entity that was going to try to capitalize off Kobe’s death. From my public relations mindset, I was thinking to myself you’d have to be a fool to do that with Kobe’s situation because the whole world is incredibly vulnerable and will call out anything that even slightly seems out of pocket. In a New York times article about Kobe’s death and how brands have to be tactful in how they continue to move under the circumstance, Tiffany Hsu informs us that there were some brands that took the commemorating route, some decided to even hold off on their ads because of the ambience and then some decided to make themselves relevant to Kobe to increase their exposure.

But the Grammy’s was different. Something like this was of course not planned but I can’t stop to think about how tragedies can help brands escape their own issues. What was thought to be a critical night came out to be a night of celebration, love, and grieving.

Sending all my love and prayers to Vanessa Bryant and her family. R.I.P. Kobe. #Mamba4Life

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