Spring 2021 Magazine

Orlando Magic VP Pat Williams: Kobe Bryant's death has 'people really thinking about their own mortality'

Kobe Bryant’s tragic death on Sunday rattled the nation, and the world. It was compounded by the fact that his daughter, Gianna, along with seven others, were also aboard the helicopter that crashed on a hillside in Southern California.

As the nation grieves the loss of a sports icon and devoted father, the tragedy has left people thinking about their own mortality.

Pat Williams, senior vice president of the Orlando Magic, knew Bryant since he was born. He appeared on Fox & Friends with Brian Killmeade on Tuesday to talk about his relationship with the Lakers star and also share the Gospel.

“God knows the minute everybody is going to come into this world,” Williams said. “He also knows the exact minute when we’re going to depart from this world. He knows. And in this period from birth to death, the real issue is, ‘What have we done about Jesus Christ?’

“And by inviting Him into our heart, we’re assured of an eternal destination in Heaven. People are really thinking about their own mortality. That’s what’s happened here. God’s in control and Jesus comes into our heart. That’s the difference maker.”

Bryant was open about his Catholic faith and reportedly went to mass at a Catholic church earlier in the morning with Gianna and had communion prior to the fatal crash. The two were traveling to Thousand Oaks, where Kobe was scheduled to coach Gianna and her team in a travel basketball tournament.

Bryant leaves behind his wife, Vanessa, and three daughters — 17-year-old Natalia, 3-year-old Bianka, and 7-month-old Capri. He is expected to be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame this year.

Williams has spent more than 50 years in the NBA as an executive, during which time he helped start the first NBA chapel in 1978. He’s also an author, having written 110 books, including his latest, “Character Carved in Stone.”

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