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A Prayer for Vanessa

Updated: Jan 29, 2020

My late pastor used to say, “Your life should be measured by your donation, not your duration.” A year ago this week, I felt the urge in my spirit to create a lasting legacy of joy, my donation to the planet. I didn’t know fully what I wanted to do but I knew I wanted to serve women. I wanted to use all the pain and heartache of my past and the ensuing strength, relentless joy and wisdom to help women and celebrate and empower them in a holistic way. So HealHer Network, a mobile support outreach for women who’ve suffered abuse, trauma or loss, was conceived. Now I run a nonprofit organization that helps women heal from the traumas of life. There’s a well of empathy one must have to do this work. I not only take on the pain of others, I use my own life’s pains and crisis to help other women heal.

Since the news of Kobe Bryant’s tragic death, I’ve gone from shock to sadness to just piercing emotional pain. I found myself sitting in the pain of Vanessa Bryant who’s lost her life partner and their beloved child, GiGi, as well as the pain of the Altobelli, Mauser and Zobayan families. I couldn’t shake the pain. It seemed overwhelming and blinding, like how does one see her way out of this irreplaceable loss. The more I thought of Vanessa’s pain, the more tears I shed. I spent two days literally sitting in the same spot in a pool of tears. Then on the third day, I began to get excited about the great woman Vanessa is about to walk into.

On the court, Kobe took on created obstacles, obstacles designed in the lines of basketball games. And with great focus, discipline and competitive drive, he out practiced, out prepared and outplayed his opponents. We all admire his unmatched focus and attention to details and his relentless pursuit of athletic greatness. Kobe never faced the crisis that stands before Vanessa. I pray his death will become the resurrection of her strength and power. That’s the Mamba Mentality: to rise in the midst of defeat, discouragement and disappointments and go beyond your potential and what seems impossible. We all celebrate the Mamba Mentality but there’s no Mamba Mentality without the Mama Mentality. Vanessa, you have been the power and strength of your family and the foundation that propelled Kobe to prominence.

The more I focused on seeing Vanessa’s strength rising out of the ashes of this tragedy, I got excited about the healing of her family. I’ve learned the best way around a crisis is through it. To Vanessa Bryant and all the Vanessas living through unimaginable tragedies, go through your pain. Cry. Feel all the pains. Allow yourself unapologetic grieving. Then when the time comes to stand, stand Vanessa, and then raise the three most spiritually-fit badass women the world has ever seen. Basketball was never meant to be your family’s legacy: the Mamba Mentality is. The Mamba Mentality birthed through the Mama Mentality. You’re built for this.

In times of crisis, we’re forced to confront what we’re made of. Things can fall apart in an instant. When it does, ask yourself what holds you together? What’s holding your family together? In times of celebrations and crisis, my faith has always been my anchor and my compass. I take courage knowing that before any tragedy or trauma, God has already prepared the way for my deliverance, victory and liberty. Just as He’d created the entire world before he made a single human, before we ever cried a single tear, He’d already prepared our joy and peace.

So Vanessa, as you pass through the valley of tears, dig a well. From your valley of tears will grow a spring of water from which many will drink.

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