As he caught the ball at the top of the key, I knew Harrison Barnes would not be able to stop whatever move that was about to be bestowed upon his ankles. Lol, there is no way Harrison Barnes is gonna be able to stop #24 from scoring in the 4th quarter, to ultimately will his team to the 7th seed of the 2013 Western Conference Playoffs. I mean, I knew #24 wouldn’t pass the ball because I mean… he just wasn’t going to.

#24 made his move, pivoted to his left (as I stood up to celebrate in advance what I knew was going to be a bucket) and almost immediately fell to the ground. I instantly shouted out, “Barnes is a hack” yelling at the TV because I knew Harrison had no chance… & then it happened.

My hero fell, and didn’t get up right away. Instead, he groped in pain reaching for the Achilles of his left leg. I initially thought, “he’ll get up and be back”… it’s just who #24 is. Well, he eventually got up only to limp off the court. The announcer revealed that #24 would not finish the game. I was instantly in denial. But then something else happened.

#24 returned to the game ONLY to successfully score two crucial free throws in a crucial game that ultimately lifted the purple & gold to victory. By that time, I knew it was a torn Achilles & my hero would be out for the remainder of the season. However, the fact that he willed himself to go back out and make two additional free throws on basically one leg… that moment fueled me in a way that I never could imagine. It gave me a mentality that keeps me vigorously scratching for success, getting every inch for victory:

Mamba Mentality.

#24 was Kobe… and Kobe was my hero. Kobe will always be my hero. When he tragically passed away a couple of weeks back, a part of me died as well. However, his legacy will live forever. His legacy birthed a newness in me. For that, I am forever grateful.

I shared my sentiments with the cohort the next week in hopes that I would be able to release some hurt by articulating my feelings. Some fellows of the cohort shared some of those same feelings and that brought a lot of peace to me.

Midyear, I can say that I am proud of the opportunity to use the Mamba Mentality, taking on the responsibility of learning as much as possible about a community filled with so much Love & passion. The biggest thing I have learned is that it takes love to overcome tragedy, pain, trauma… It takes love to rise above poverty and systematic flaws against Blacks, people of color, people who lack the currency to be current in a world of catastrophic displacement. I have become intentional about using my spotlight to highlight the dim areas and stories of Detroit. I have become unapologetic in promoting the importance of providing the community with education regarding resources that can impact the homes, the land, the families in need. I have become encouraged to use wisdom to know when to speak up in times where a perspective is needed because of who & what I represent. I have become empowered with the full understanding that the work I am doing is far more bigger than me, but more so to impact a culture and a generation. I have accepted the fact that I have to continue to inspire and to push for beyond.

Torn achilles or not.