None of the qualities Kobe is worshiped for are inherently Christian. Dependence, forgiveness, humility, poverty in spirit, receiving mercy, and joyfully suffering are quite opposite of his “Mamba mentality that was centered on being better, stronger, more dominant, and ruthless at competing.”
Sports and its stars are sacred to many—real idols. But precisely because they don’t matter and have nothing to do with our biggest problems (sin, Satan, and death). Being great at a sport does not truly help anyone—though it makes fans feel good when they attach themselves to someone else’s supposed greatness. Sports are religion in America, with its own canonized saints.
People do not mourn Kobe and lament his death because he was religious personally—He is the religion of others. His image became greater than ordinary life—where people routinely suffer, get sick, die. But these illusions were smashed because he, like all sinners must, died.
Grieve death. Grieve sin. But Christ says worse will happen to you than did to Kobe, if you do not repent: “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Lk. 3:1-5). What Kobe could not escape, you will not be able to either. –ed.