“If I panic, everyone else panics.” －Kobe Bryant
Back in March 2008, I “abducted” my kumpare Lynon Cortez from his downtown LA home and brought him to Hollywood.
“Maano ta di pare man (What shall we do here, buddy)?” the former Iloilo City radio personality asked.
I asked him to wait inside Nat’s Thai Food, a restaurant on Vine Street and located near Wild Card Boxing, where Manny Pacquiao was training. When the boxer, who was preparing for his rematch against Juan Manuel Marquez, entered the restaurant, I introduced him to my kumpare.
I noticed, unlike other US-based fans, Cortez was placid and unperturbed.
He admitted it was his first personal meeting with the boxer but he didn’t care. He wasn’t mesmerized by his presence nor celebrity.
When he didn’t flaunt his photos with Pacquiao to his friends and family, it gave me a hint that he wasn’t interested in the boxing champion.
A week ago, we discussed the “Celebration of Life” event earlier this week at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, held in memory of basketball champion Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna.
“I will definitely be there,” Cortez quipped. “I will report the event on [RMN Iloilo].”
“I’m a big Kobe Bryant fan,” he added. “I really cried when I learned that he died.”
He loved Kobe Bryant not only because he was an NBA star but because “he was a family man.” According to him, Bryant was a model husband and father.
“He lived a clean life and loved his family so much,” he stressed.
Cortez was so excited to attend the memorial.
“It’s a big event and I will do my best to be there,” he insisted.
He shared his experience at the event with me.
Cortez said late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel spoke first after a Kobe Bryant highlight reel before introducing the basketball star’s wife Vanessa, who said: “Thank you all so much for being here. It means so much to us.”
She began her speech about her daughter.
“Gianna never tried to conform,” Bryant said. “She was always herself.”
She then shifted to her late husband.
“He was my everything,” Bryant noted. “Kobe loved more than I could express or put into words.”
NBA legend Michael Jordan also took to the podium.
He said: “When Kobe died, a little piece of me died. Looking around the room, a piece of you died too, or else you wouldn’t be here.”
In addition, another NBA legend, Shaquille O’Neal, referred to Kobe Bryant as a “little brother.”
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Alex P. Vidal, who is based in New York City, used to be the editor for two local dailies in Iloilo./WDJ