It hasn’t been that long since the tragedy that took the life of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and seven others, but I’m still in shock. This one really hurt and was the first time I was impacted by the loss of someone I’ve never met.
Growing up, Kobe was my favorite player and I rooted for the Lakers simply because of him. Obviously, he gained worldwide fame for his abilities on the court, but I’m not here to talk about any of his stats, championships, or other basketball accomplishments.
There are plenty of celebrities – athletes, actors, musicians, etc. – who have become famous and commanded large followings, whether these followings are deserved or not. Our culture has a strange relationship with fame and in the social media age it has become even easier to acquire some level of fame for various good or questionable reasons. And in my quantitative mind, I think it’s reasonable to claim that the impact of our words is proportional to our “fame” or level of following.
And that’s why it hurt so much – it’s all about what Kobe had done post- “Mamba out” with his incredible amount of acquired fame. That leads me to my main message: Know. Your. Platform. Every single one of us has a platform in some form, so it’s a matter of acknowledging and recognizing your audience and reach and what you can do with your platform. Think about the people and places in your life, both physical and digital. This is your immediate audience and reach. Now think about all of those people and the people and places in their lives. This is the opportunity for your reach to spread.
My platform consists largely of college classrooms, young minds, and anything I stand for and represent in those spaces. Those of you that know me know that one of these things is trying to be an advocate for women’s sports and women’s basketball in particular. There’s the Kobe connection. He took his immense platform and following and used his voice to promote women’s basketball and empower young women and grow the game. And I’ll certainly never forget seeing him and Gianna wearing UConn gear in Gampel on Katie Lou and Napheesa’s Senior Day last season.
I could go on and talk more about his children’s book or Oscar or academy, but I’d rather leave you with an opportunity to reflect. What’s your platform? What do you stand for, advocate for, and represent? Your voice matters.