Legacies Worth Honoring

In a twelve month span, we lost two monumental legends. When Nipsey Hussle was murdered in March of 2019, it changed the landscape of hip-hop and awards shows. Meek Mill released his single Letter to Nipsey, the BET Awards gave a segment to his memory, and more. Hussle’s phrase, “The Marathon Continues” was heavily adopted by many worldwide with some even getting a tattoo of the symbol.

On January 26th, Kobe Bryant, his thirteen year old daughter Gianna and 7 others were killed in a helicopter crash. Their death changed the landscape of sports worldwide. In the following weeks, players wore his jersey and commemorated Bryant in a way not many see.

In the midst of both deaths, I heard one phrase more than I’ve ever heard it before: “We now honor the legacy of…” Hearing these words in every tribute to these fallen legends got me thinking about how often we truly try to live up to those words. Constantly we say that these heroes are gone too soon but we all too soon forget about what it is that they stood for. We promise to honor legacies and memories; and yet we forget that promise just as quickly as they passed. In short, honoring our heroes seems to have become like many other honorable and important things: a trend that fades without a second thought.

After Nip’s death, my best friend Sterling sent me a message that said, “bro why aren’t we living up to our fullest potential?” And that hit me like a ton of bricks so to speak. I understood in that moment that everything Nipsey stood for doesn’t need to die with him like we often let happen with our legends. When Kobe passed, I couldn’t help but to think of how he never settled. He was always looking to improve and to become a better version of himself in every possible way. He looked beyond the game of basketball and was moving into a new phase of greatness that stretched him to grow in a new way.

In an instant, we lost icons. People who inspired generations in various communities but their legend doesn’t have to die with them. One of my saddest realizations is that I’ll never meet Hussle or Bryant. However, one of my comforts is knowing that I’m taking lessons that I learned from their lives and doing my best to honor them in how I apply those lessons to my life. To honor our idols is to apply what they taught us. Actions done above words spoken. Nipsey Hussle taught me that where I’m from doesn’t have to dictate where I’m going. He taught me that I can stand for change and make a positive impact in the places people say I should forget. Kobe Bryant taught me to be strategic to the point of being obsessive in finding the way to be at my best. Even when I have to adjust how I work on things. What have your idols, legends and icons taught you? How will you honor them? Continue thinking about how to apply the lessons that you’ve been taught through the lives of the ones who inspired you the most. When it comes to the men and women who inspire me the most I ask myself, ” what would _____ do if they were in this situation?” I would encourage you to ask yourself that same question and remember this: Legacies don’t have to be laid to rest when bodies are.

About Author

A Los Angeles native, AJ grew up watching sports from the age of two and his love for basketball and football never died. He started playing sports at age seven and went on through collegiate and minor league levels (local and overseas) as well. After nearly twenty years of athletics, AJ decided to hang it up and retired from minor league football in June of 2018. Since then, he has continued his love of sports by writing for the Suave Report as a sports and culture contributor as well as coaching and refereeing sports in the OKC metro area. He currently lives with his wife, Beth and daughter, Gianna in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, working as a coach and gym owner.

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