And seven others

Today is the anniversary of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.

It is also the anniversary of the deaths of seven others.

John Altobelli.

Keri Altobelli.

Alyssa Altobelli.

Sarah Chester.

Payton Chester.

Christina Mauser.

Ara Zobayan.

I was thinking about this last night; about the way we report—then remember—the tragic and sudden deaths of famous people. It is always, without exception, BOLD NAME … and others.



Sometimes the non-famous don’t even make the headlines. When the singer Aaliyah died in a plane crash in 2001, one had to wait an entire paragraph before learning that, “six men, including three from the Los Angeles area, and another woman also died, authorities said.”

And, to be clear, I understand. The members of Otis Redding’s band were accomplished musicians, but hardly household names. The guy maneuvering the plane when Ronnie Van Zant went down in 1977 was some anonymous pilot who spent his days flying namelessly through clouds. Aaliyah’s fellow passengers were her colleagues, but … we all have colleagues.

The thing is, if you really think about it, a famous life is no more valuable or worthy than an anonymous life. We all wake up, brush our teeth, eat our breakfast, go about the routines of existence. If one of those existences is shooting baskets against the Suns, and another of those existences is, in the case of Christina Mauser, coaching kids—well, there’s no realistic or worthwhile measure of importance. A celebrity dies: We weep by the millions. A teacher dies: We never hear about it.

So I guess, on this sad day when we remember (rightly) a basketball legend and his wonderful daughter, let’s also reflect that the Altobelli family was decimated, and that Sarah Chester was a longtime elementary school teacher who had retired to raise her family (including her daughter Payton, an eighth grader), and that Christina Mauser was a mom and wife and basketball coach, and that Ara Zobayan—the pilot—loved soaring through the skies.

Think about the fragility of life.

Then live yours to the fullest.