One of the most surreal and somber days in sports took place as pros were circling Torrey Pines for the final round of the 2020 Farmers Insurance Open.
CBS’s broadcast did not begin with highlights of the action from before the broadcast window opened, but instead with the shocking news of the passing of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
Most players were unaware of the news as they carried on with the round, even as fans shouted at Tiger Woods, a noted Lakers fan, “Do it for Mamba.”
And as Jon Rahm revealed Tuesday, the tragic death of Bryant also meant a missed opportunity to meet one of his idols.
“What people don’t know is that I had a meeting arranged with Kobe for two days after that Sunday,” Rahm told ESPN’s Matt Barrie on SportsCenter. “So on Tuesday, I was going to go meet him at Orange County.”
On Sunday after winning the American Express for his fourth win in his last six starts, Rahm spoke about how much he admired Bryant for his work ethic and how he handled his success.
“I spent a lot of time listening to a lot of his interviews and videos because I see a lot of similarities between us in the way we approach our craft,” Rahm said then. “Because craft is the keyword for Kobe. And having that obsessiveness that we both have over the game. It’s somebody to learn from, for sure. Work ethic beats talent every day of the week, period. And I like to think that I have a really hard work ethic and I put a lot of time in.”
On SportsCenter on Tuesday, as he gets set for a return to Torrey Pines, Rahm again praised the dedication the 18-time All-Star had and said how it inspired him to try to do the same.
“The way he approached his lifestyle and his craft really spoke to me,” Rahm said. “I really kind of took a lot of information and how to to do what I have to do and what I want to do and just be a lot more like him.”
It’s fair to assume their conversation would be much different if it happened today rather than three years ago when it was planned.
Rahm just recently had two kids in a span of 15 months while Bryant is also remembered as a loving father to four daughters. His second-oldest daughter, Gianna, also died with him in the 2020 helicopter crash, along with seven others. (If you need a better example of just how respected Bryant was for being a “girl dad,” watch SportsCenter anchor Elle Duncan’s tribute to him in the aftermath of the crash.)
Rahm wants to be the same kind of father to his kids, Kepa and Eneko.
“I honestly wanted to ask Kobe, we just touched on it, how the heck did he practice the way he did and still have the impact he had as a father with his daughters?” Rahm said. “How do you divide all that and still be a good reference for your kids?
“I guess I’ll never know his answer.”
Rahm may never get to ask Bryant the question, but he was able to draw on a friend of Bryant’s for inspiration.
“I asked Tiger that once and he said he didn’t sleep,” Rahm said with a laugh. “That doesn’t correlate with me. And I know Kobe would say the same thing, but I had to figure out something in between.”