Kobe Bryant. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Kobe Bryant. (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Why does the loss of superstars affect us so much?

OPINION: The death of NBA basketball legend Kobe Bryant has created worldwide shock and grief that I have witnessed only once in my lifetime: when Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a car crash.

Bryant, with eight others including one of his daughters, died when the helicopter they were travelling in crashed into a hillside in California.

He was known for his relentless drive and great work ethic, playing for 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Nicknamed the Black Mamba, he won five NBA championships and two Olympic Gold medals.

He was named an NBA All-Star 18 times in his 20- year career.

As I write this, I am watching CNN interrupt their normal world news coverage to cover his death and its effects being felt around the world.

It made me pause and ask: why is it that certain deaths affect people more than others?

I, along with many others who have travelled to the Los Angeles area, was fortunate to witness Bryant ply his craft at the Staples Centre.

I watched his Lakers team play the Oklahoma City Thunder in December 2009.

OKC had a pretty fair team that night, with household names now, in Durant, Harden and Westbrook, who were starting their careers.

He had an pretty average night and shot only 40 points that night, nothing special by his lofty standards.

Bryant was a class above anyone else on the court that night.

It is a moment in time that my sports-mad son and I will never forget.

Unfortunately people pass on every day, having lived special and wonderful lives.

So why is it that some people’s deaths touch us so deeply?

For me I believe it is dreaming of living a life similar or switching off and forgetting about our troubles for a while.

We get lost in witnessing greatness in whatever field of endeavour it is.

Sport teaches many lessons including dealing with defeat and adversity.

More importantly it teaches about team and bringing people together as one united force.

Life and sport will and must continue and we will be left with the memories Bryant created for us.

It is a harsh reminder to live life to its fullest and don’t take anything for granted.

When he finished his last match and made his farewell speech he signed off with two words which ring true today.

Mamba out!