By Joe Casey
Remember Kobe Bryant’s retirement? It didn’t take long, but he was thriving in life after retirement. He was passionate about his second career in retirement. And he had already won an Oscar.
You’ll always remember where you were when you heard the news. And again later when you heard that his 13-year-old daughter was aboard the helicopter as well. Kobe Bryant dead at 41. Nine lives were lost and many families devastated.
We were in Boston, my hometown, visiting our oldest daughter who lives there now and with our son on a college visit. (Yes, I am writing this as a lifelong Celtics fan). It did not seem real at first. It took a while to process. So shocking and so very sad.
Reading the reactions from those who knew him painted a picture of his life and who he was. An iconic NBA player. A father of four daughters. A Valued Mentor. A Creative Person. An Entrepreneur after his retirement from the NBA in 2016.
He leaves a compelling legacy after a short life. The high-flying lifestyle of a recently retired top-flight professional athlete may not seem relatable, at first. Agents and other handlers. The astounding levels of wealth created.
Kobe with was blessed extraordinary talent and physical gifts that provided a foundation for success. Beyond his talent, Kobe Bryant’s story, which ended far too soon, was rooted in an exceptional drive and work ethic. But tragedies like this one remind us that they are indeed still human and mortal, just like the rest us.
Reflecting on what I’ve read and heard in the aftermath of this terrible accident, I’ve noticed Kobe Bryant’s life offers some valuable reminders about life after retirement:
Make no mistake. It’s essential to plan for retirement. You need to establish a level of financial security and a degree of certainty for the future. And it’s wise to plan for what’s next and what you want to do in your life after retirement. But it’s easy for the discipline it takes to retire well to become an obsession. Planning for retirement includes a mindset of sacrificing today to invest for the future. Be mindful to strike the right balance. Figure out how to live fully in the now as well. As hard as you may try you can’t plan for every variable. Don’t create regrets.
Kobe was definitely one of the most intense and disciplined pro athletes of all time. But there were more sides to him than his obsession with and success as a basketball player. Because he spent years as a child in Europe, because of his father’s pro basketball career, he became multilingual, becoming fluent in Italian and Spanish as well as English. He also cultivated interests beyond basketball, creating a foundation for a robust second act career. What are your interests outside of your professional life?
Following his retirement from the NBA in 2016, Kobe Bryant quickly built a thriving second career based on his variety of interests. He started an interesting series on ESPN+ called Details breaking down key players and games in-depth from his experience and perspective. Notably, he created a production company, Granity Studios. He developed a short film “Dear Basketball” that won an Academy Award in 2017. Since then, he created a series of books for children, The Wizenard Series, designed to inspire kids.
What could a second act career possibility be for you? Are there skills and interests that you could leverage in your life after retirement? It may not be a production company, but it might be something you could do part-time that fits with your vision for your life after retirement.
Kobe Bryant was extremely driven and ambitious. When you look back at the entirety of his basketball career and his post-retirement pursuits, his ability to intensely focus on what he wanted stands out.
What’s next for you? What can you focus on now that will help you be better prepared for your future.
The outpouring of emotion following his sudden death including a tsunami of messages and stories form NBA players past and present. It was instantly clear the impact that Kobe had with teammates and peers. It was also abundantly clear that many of today’s NBA players had idolized him growing up and he was their hero. The stories emerged about how many younger players he had mentored, trained or supported. Here’s one small example of support following Gordon Hayward’s serious injury on the opening game of 2017.
Who are you taking under your wing? Keep an eye out for opportunities to help people learn from what you know.
Mentor someone and pass along your experience and wisdom. it can make a big difference.
Think about this life lost too soon.
Honor his legacy by applying one of the many lessons he leaves behind.
Joe Casey is a former senior HR executive at Merrill Lynch who’s in his second career as a retirement coach at Retirement Wisdom. He holds a Masters in Gerontology from the University of Southern California and works with people to help them discover and design what’s next after their primary career. He’s the host of The Retirement Wisdom Podcast talking with authors, experts and retirees pursuing interesting Second Acts who share their lessons learned that can help you in your journey.