Death, #KobeBryant, and You

You will hear a great deal in the next few days about the early death of basketball star Kobe Bryant, who seems to have been a practicing Catholic.   It might even bump some impeachment coverage off the waves.

A death like this is very sad.  We should say a prayer for him and his closest.

His death will seem sadder to many because of his fame.

YOU are no less valuable to God, no less desired by Him for heaven than the late Mr. Bryant.

Sudden death happens.  It happens to quite a lot of people, as a matter of fact.

Bluntly, if sudden, unforeseen, death happened to Kobe Bryant, it can easily happen to you.

Just look the wrong way at the wrong moment.

Some deaths are foreseen or predictable or made more likely by circumstances.  One universal circumstance is that every single one of us is going to die.  The question is when and how, not if.

Will it be slow?  Will it be swift?  Will we know when it’s coming?  Will we have no advance warning?  Will we be aware or wholly unaware?

One of the most poignant and important petitions in the Litany of Saints is our plea to God is:

A subitanea et improvisa morte, libera nos, Domine.

From a sudden and unprovided death, save us, O Lord.

Sudden death is one thing.   It can be a grace, as opposed to a long, drawn out agony.   On the other hand, for some people the long agony is a grace, for it gives them the chance to repent and offer their suffering in reparation for their sins.

So, sudden or foreseen or long or quick… that’s one thing.

Unprovided is another. 

An “unprovided” death is a death without access to the last sacraments, especially absolution from a priest.

That’s a scary thought…. especially if you haven’t been to confession for a  long time.

When did you last go to confession?

Dear readers, one of the main reason I put myself into this blog, my force multiplier, is because every single one of you is going to die.  I want every one of you to enjoy the happiness of heaven.  Some of you, however, haven’t darkened the door of a confessional for a long time.  I tremble for you.

I beg you.


It might be your last.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Cri de Coeur, GO TO CONFESSION and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Thomas S says:

    Kobe was a baptized Catholic, married in the Church. May God be good to him.

  2. John21 says:

    And his 13-year-old daughter reportedly died in the helicopter crash alongside him. Absolutely tragic.

  3. Irish Timothy says:

    Thank you once again for the excellent reminders Fr. Z! I plan to go to confession this Tuesday. Please pray for me that I safely make it there and for the grace of a good confession. When we hear of a death like Kobe’s today, or what is happening in China or deaths daily on the news, it can snap us back to reality vs the day to day focus we have on so many other things that won’t help us to hopefully achieve eternal happiness with God.

  4. Pingback: Death, #KobeBryant, and You – Everybody's daughter

  5. Clinton R. says:

    Very true words, Father. We know neither the day or hour of our passing. We do need to be in a state of grace at all times. May the Lord bless the souls of Kobe Bryant, his daughter and the others killed in the crash. +JMJ+

  6. Danteewoo says:

    Several years ago, as Kobe was passing through Denver for a court hearing in the Vail area for charges against him, he was seen at a noon Mass at Holy Ghost Church. On another day, a Sunday, a friend of mine gave Kobe Communion at Mass at the same church. He was one of us, a sinner, yes, but repentant.

  7. Gab says:

    Through your many posts about Confession and reminders to Go to Confession, thank you, Father. You have helped me, and I’m sure many other souls, to go to Confession regularly.
    May God have mercy on all those who died in the crash. Requiescant in pace.

  8. robert hightower says:

    Thanks Father and all the other priests for sober reminders and providing ample access to these sacraments.

  9. codycarver says:

    I saw this post earlier on FB.

    “As sad as Kobe’s death is, a friend texted me today to tell me that a friend of her’s attends the same Catholic Church as Kobe and saw him this morning at Mass. There can be nothing more consoling to those who mourn than to know that a loved one worshipped God right before his death because worshipping God is what heaven is. Go to Mass. Go to Mass. Go to Mass.” Thank you, Fr David Barnes for sharing this. May Kobe, his daughter and all who died in the crash rest in God’s peace.

  10. Kathleen10 says:

    My husband is a certifiable sports nut, and did not know Kobe Bryant was a practicing Catholic who credited a priest with helping him turn his life around after his unfortunate episode with a young woman. His wife and family were regular parishioners at a Catholic church. He grew up in Italy because his dad played ball there. Kobe spoke fluent Italian. He attended a Catholic high school.
    The other dad on the helicopter was a coach of a Cape Cod team and his wife and daughter.
    I so hope it is consoling to hear what codycarver just shared, Kobe was at Mass this morning.
    My goodness.

  11. APX says:

    This is why I don’t get on a plane without going to confession. As long as I’m in a good state to go, and fine with going.

  12. The Egyptian says:

    A VERY respectful article at Breitbart about Kobe’s faith and how it helped him get on with his life and save his marriage, he talks about his priest, a very good and short read

  13. JWDenver says:

    I went to confession this morning. If you have not been to confession just go. I was away from the church for 12 years and the best thing I did was to go to confession and return. From one layman it is worth it more than anyone can possibly say.

    [This is good. Thanks for that. Many people don’t realize that, if they drifted away – even for a long time, all they have to do is go to confession and they can start to receive Communion again, provided they have a firm purpose of amendment. And most other situations that people get themselves into can be resolved with some advice and effort.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  14. Father G says:


    Yes, there are several FB posts using that quote attributed to Father Barnes, but when I checked his Twitter page, this what he actually wrote:

    “A friend texted me today to tell me that a friend of her’s saw #KobeBryant at #Catholic Mass this morning. Mass is the worship of God. Heaven is the worship of God. Go to Mass here so that you can worship God forever in heaven.”

  15. monstrance says:

    There is a much greater chance of death in your automobile than in an airliner.

  16. APX says:

    There is a much greater chance of death in your automobile than in an airliner.

    I realize that. I’ve had several close calls already including one with a dump truck followed by another vehicle to my driver’s side door. I just totaled off another car last week. I go to confession weekly. I also go to confession before any long highway drives. I don’t make long trips without going to confession. Let’s just say that. I can’t control the planes, but I can control the state of my soul. Planes still crash, and when they do, you usually don’t get to walk away from them.

  17. Kevin says:

    Definitely, a tragic accident! And I’m so pleased to read that he was a practicing Catholic and receiving the Sacraments regularly. I will pray for him and his daughter. I do think though, that it is amazing who we (secular society) have come to idolize. Just seeing all the news coverage etc., is very telling. Meanwhile a Nigerian Priest was beheaded….our priorities are all misplaced.

    Requiesce in pace Kobe Bryant.

  18. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Unless the end of the world beats us to it, all of us have a 100% chance of dying.

  19. “Bryant and his wife have been reported to be regular parishioners at an Orange County, California parish, and after his death, some on social media said that he had been seen at Mass before the helicopter ride that ended his life.

    Some also reported seeing him at weekday Mass in California.”

  20. Yes, Kobe Bryant and his daughter were at Mass the morning of the accident:

    He may not have been a saint, but he was rather public about his faith.

  21. JakeMC says:

    Fr. Heilman over at US Grace Force recently emphasized the importance of confession by showing a picture of his car, in which he will literally make house calls for people who want confession and can’t get to the church for whatever reason. A sign is stenciled on the driver’s door: “US Grace Force. We deliver. Have absolution, will travel.” I don’t know how he manages it; for most of the priests I’ve known, it’s been logistically impossible.

    Just a lighthearted look at a very serious subject.

  22. teomatteo says:

    I was talking to a family member who had left the church many years hence that the reason I still believe is that I may not die but I know that I will surely, certainly be judged. He naturally jumped on my ‘misstatement’ and said that I WILL die. I said that as per our Credo that when our Lord comes again we may be alive and go to our judgment without death but the judgment will happen. I of course said it in jest to point out that judgment is certain, more certain than death… I’m sure it didn’t impress him so I shouldn’t have said it. (as per my wife).

  23. JoanM says:

    Wheb I was training to be a flight Attendant with Awe Lingus we were yold that we could fly every day btil we were 7 before we could expect to crasg. A trainee pilot sitting next to me said, the problen us – you see that old guy climbubg the steps it’s his turn today, unfortunatly all veto go with him.

  24. Morrie Chamberlain says:

    Whenever I run across a lapsed Catholic, I always tell them to go to Confession and they will find great peace.

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