The University of Massachusetts Amherst

A Call to Action: Seize the Day


The retired professional basketball player Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others perished in a helicopter crash in Southern California on the morning of January 26. The NBA legend leaves behind a legacy of a 20-season career with the Lakers, five NBA championships, and two Olympic Gold medals. He also leaves behind a wife and three daughters.

He was 41 years old when the helicopter crashed into a hillside and burst into flames. 

This tragedy has impacted the lives of individuals across the globe; Bryant’s loved ones are forced to mourn his unexpected passing, fans are struck by the death of an icon, and others are confronted by the fragility of life. Millions cheered for him, rooted against him, and respected both his talent and philanthropy.

Whether or not you followed Bryant’s career or feel any connection with him or his sport, his death evokes compassion for his family and a sense of vulnerability. A young and healthy multimillionaire athlete was struck by a freak accident and is now dead. These tragedies can happen to anyone at any time—no one can escape death.

While his legacy should be championed, his memories never forgotten, and his life mourned, he serves as a reminder to seize the day. Tomorrow is never a certainty. While we are here, we must follow Bryant’s inspiration to shoot for our dreams and never settle. We must continue to pursue greatness: Try out for that team you’re not sure about, apply for a promotion doing what you love, or change your life if you’re unhappy. Write a book, tell someone you love them, or make an apology. 

Time is a precious currency; its fleeting nature proves its worth. We can never know how much of it we will be allotted, but we can try to use it wisely and bravely. We must cherish this gift through spreading kindness, cultivating our gratitude, and chasing our goals.

“Have a good time. Life is too short to get bogged down and be discouraged,” said Kobe in a 2008 CBS interview. “You have to keep moving. You have to keep going. Put one foot in front of the other, smile and just keep rolling on.”

Kobe reminds us that life goes on. Bad things are inevitable, but there will always be great happiness, opportunity, and love. No one awaits tragedies, but they often serve as reminders to express gratitude for the people and things that surround you, to recognize the vulnerability of life, and to seize the days you are granted.

Kobe memorial

A small tribute to Kobe and Gianna Bryant was lit with candles on the UMass Amherst campus on the day of the tragedy.