Updated: Mar 1, 2020
Sports Mental Health Practitioners:
I hope this message finds you well.
I am truly heartbroken over the loss of Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, and the other seven individuals who tragically passed yesterday. I suspect that many of you might feel the same and that a
meaningful number of the athletes who we work with are struggling to understand this heartbreak.
I am writing to encourage you to use this opportunity to connect with your athletes – there are so many lessons embedded in this unfortunate event. Loss and grief, the brevity of life, and how athletes should strive be more than “just” athletes - are just a few themes that I have reflected on over the last 20 hours.
As many of you know a meaningful part of my work focuses on Black male athletes and this is a group that disproportionately experiences death. I suspect that some of the Black male athletes who you work with knew Kobe or met Kobe - and if they did not then nearly all of them probably identified with Kobe in some meaningful way. Despite my age and life stage, as a Black man, the prospect of death is a daily reality for me and I suspect that many
of the Black male athletes you work with feel the same daily, if not hourly burden. That’s just keeping it “100”. However, when a hero like Kobe Bryant transitio
ns to the other side – I think “if it can happen to Kobe, then…”
It is my prayer that each of you utilize this unfortunate opportunity to connect with the athletes who you work with regardless of their race, gender, nationality, or sexual orientation. Further, I am praying for the time and/or courage for you to speak with your Black male athletes, in particular your basketball players, who might be struggling with an event that has been devastating for so many.
Wishing that incredible things happen to you all on this day that we have been blessed with…
Emmett L. Gill, Jr.