The only true dealings I had with Kobe Bryant came during the one period of grand excitement in the 31 seasons of the Timberwolves: the playoff run of 2004 that ended with a six-game elimination by the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals.
The sexual assault allegation charge against Bryant from the previous summer in Colorado remained in force. Kobe was 25, an all-time great talent, insolent, a leader in egomania in a league filled with contenders. He became a father during all of this, the first of four girls with wife Vanessa.
He escaped the Colorado mess, presumably by writing a huge check to the woman. He played 20 years for the Lakers and remained perhaps the most popular athlete in the history of Los Angeles sports. On Sunday, he died in a helicopter crash at age 41, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gigi and seven other people, headed for a youth basketball tournament.
All it takes is a look at the eight-second video of Kobe and Gigi, at a Lakers game, him showing her the right cut to make on the court, her with a "Yes, Dad, I know this" smile, and you see that whatever Kobe Bryant was in 2004, he was different now.
He was a father of girls, making him four times lucky as a citizen of this planet.