Dear Kobe Bean Bryant,
You don’t know who I am but my name is Pedro Casas. I’m from Austin, TX and I am one of your biggest fans. I have been since your rookie year in 1996. I was six years old at that time, and I’ll never forget a conversation I had with my uncle when I first saw you play. I remember you taking a steal and starting the break. You ended the fast break with a two-handed jam that had so much force and aggression, the same way Russell Westbrook throws it down now. I looked at my Tio Paco and asked him, “Tio, who was that? He looks like he can fly.” He looked me right in the eye and told me, “Mijo, that’s Kobe Bryant.” You’ve been my idol ever since.
Now, I don’t know if this is your final year in the league, but I’m preparing like it is. Just a couple of days ago I tweeted out how I was going to shed a tear the day you have your retirement press conference. I wasn’t the only who felt that way, my boy Luis also joined in on the conversation and said that he was going to cry the next Mississippi River. You see Mr. Bryant; you affected many of our lives on many different levels. You taught me to never quit, and I mean that literally. I once heard you say, “Never accept failure.” I now have that tattooed around my left wrist. You taught me how to believe in myself. You taught me that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. Mr. Bryant, I didn’t have my father around growing up. I missed out on a lot of things, one of them was having someone to teach me how to shoot a jump shot. Can you guess how I learned how to do that? You. And if you ask my brother or any single one of my friends, I got it pretty much down to you in the 4th of a big game.
As much as it pains me to bring this up, I was completely shocked when I found out about the allegations in Eagle, Colorado.
Did I think you did it? No. Was I blind to see how this looked? Not at all.
What made me really believe you were innocent were the performances you put up on the court while you were going through all this. You were un-human. You looked like a super mutant/Martian special breed that the God’s bestowed upon us. The laser focus you displayed was something that to this day I have not seen duplicated. I had trouble playing sometimes because my high school sweet heart and I were having “troubles,” meanwhile you were facing RAPE charges and balled like your life depended on it, literally.
A lot of people have always questioned why I chose you as the person that I looked up to. To be honest, there are a lot of reasons. Way too many to sit here and list. I’ve always heard that Jordan was better, Lebron in his prime is better than you, Magic this, Larry Bird that, but I’ve always blocked it out. I always knew you’d rather let your play do the talking for you. I mean, with a resume like yours who wouldn’t? 5x NBA Champion, 2x NBA Finals MVP, 17x NBA All-Star, 4x NBA All-Star Game MVP, 11x All-NBA First Team, 2x All-NBA Second Team, 9x NBA All-Defensive First Team, 3x NBA All-Defensive Second Team, The Los Angeles Lakers All-Time leading scorer, and last but not least League MVP. Side note, you having only one Regular Season MVP is the biggest crime in ALL of sports, yeah I said it. Look at the numbers in 2005-2006, and 2006-2007, Mr. Bryant, you should have at least two more of those MVP’s in your trophy case.
As I sit here and type this all out it’s really starting to hit me. Pretty soon you won’t be suiting up for the Los Angeles Lakers anymore. It’s pretty hard to even say that without me wanting it to not be true. I always hoped that when I got to a certain age I’d have a kid and they would be able to witness you ball at least once. I chose the alternate route and decided to postpone the family route for now so that I can do things like I plan on doing this upcoming season. I plan on going to Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Denver and Los Angeles to see you hoop on these young bloods in person.
Before you question my commitment as a fan and waiting for your last year to see you play in person, I have an answer. I grew up really poor, keeping food on the table was my mom’s main goal, and I couldn’t afford certain luxuries like attending NBA games. Once I started to make my own money I bought tickets to games versus the Spurs, since they were the closest NBA team to me. But it had to be my luck that every game I went to see you do your thing in, you sat out, for one reason or another. This year I won’t let that happen, that’s why I’m going all over the state of Texas and then cross country to see something I’ve waited 25 years to see. To see you hit someone with that Mamba Fade away that is so unstoppable all in someone’s grill while I cheer you on court-side.
So, this is for you, Mr. Bryant. From myself and most importantly from all of Laker Nation, Thank you. Thank you for everything on and off the court. Thank you for being some one a generation of kids like myself could look up to. The NBA will NEVER be the same without you.
Your biggest fan.