It’s available to all of us.
If we ask forgiveness and turn our back to the life we lived before… if we cherish the forgiveness our family and God offers us… then we realize the value of redemption, and we make changes.
From that point on, we choose to make deliberate, life changing choices.
It appears that’s how it was with Kobe.
His wife stood by him.
During his public humiliation, we watched a twenty-two year old woman sit stoically by her man. We saw the pain reflected in her eyes, we saw anger in her pressed lips. But she forgave him, even as his poor choices played out on Court TV and the nightly news.
He asked for her forgiveness.
She gave it.
And to show his gratitude for her willingness to give him another chance, he made a public, televised profession of love and commitment. To her, to their family. And he stayed true to the commitment.
— “You’re my backbone. You’re a blessing. You’re a piece of my heart. You’re the air I breathe.” Kobe spoke those words as tears spilled from his eyes. “And you’re the strongest person I know, and I’m so sorry for having to put you through this and having to put our family through this.”
By all accounts, from then on, he turned his face and heart toward his family.
He spoke of sitting in carpool lines to pick his girls up from school. Not because it was expected, but because he wanted to.
In retirement, he coached his daughter’s basketball team.
A man not dedicated to his family won’t commit that kind of time to his teenager’s activities.
Within hours of his death, ugly comments began surfacing about that time in Colorado. The indiscretion, made when he was twenty-four years old, started bouncing around like a foul ball.
None of us are sinless. Yet here we are, holding that ball.
It’s no secret how I feel about unfaithfulness in a marriage. Adultery breaks people into a million pieces.
It hurts children.
When Kobe’s indiscretions were broadcast nightly on the six o’clock news, I hated him. When I saw his beautiful young wife’s pained expression, I hated him more. It was all too similar to my own marriage.
Like her, I had forgiven an adulterer and had decided to stay. Concluded my family was worthy of a second chance.
But in my marriage, after I offered forgiveness, adultery became stuck on a rinse and repeat cycle.
I assumed it would be the same for Vanessa.
I was wrong.
There is a big difference in a man (or woman) who commits the same hurtful act over and over again, regardless of the pain caused to others… and one who sees and feels the pain he caused his loved ones and then chooses to change his ways… Chooses to make amends and heal wounds.
I believe Kobe made it a priority to heal the wounds he inflicted. His surviving children will remember a loving dad who put them first. His wife will know she was loved and adored.
That’s the kind of legacy all men should strive for.
“His most inspiring trait was his decision to turn to his faith in God and receive God’s mercy and to be a better man after a regretful decision.” Ballestero
Danita Clark Able, author