R.I.P, K & G

There are few celebrity deaths that hit home with me. They hit me deep because I shared a special, personal bond with these great people of talent. The first that comes to mind is Biggie. He was an east coast brotha who died on the streets of LA, in front of the building where I went shopping for school clothes with my mom when I was a kid. Then Tupac, only four short years after we bumped fists in Hollywood when I was a fledging journalist on the hustle. And speaking of hustle, Nipsey bit to the core too, when he got gone. I never met the brotha, but I knew his tags in the hood. They were EVERYWHERE. I would see them and be like, that nigga Nipsey is putting in work!

Today, is a heartbreaker. For all Angelenos who bleed purple and gold, the man named Kobe Bryant was more than a Laker star. He was our favorite son who never left the house. He stayed and played to the pinnacles of his athletic performance so that he and we could enjoy the fruits of his labor: 5 NBA Championships!

I remember when he joined the team in 1996. Me and my roommate Ernest would each buy a BK Double Meal with a Sprite from Burger King, and a pint of Vanilla Fudge Häagen-Dazs on game nights and go home to watch our team go to work. We’d be so pissed if we were down in the third quarter against a team, we knew we should’ve been whooping the whole night. When the fourth quarter would come around, we watched Kobe do his thing: his graceful stride, his arrogant dribble, his powerfully artful finish from any spot on the court, but especially above the rim. No one could match him consistently.

I met Kobe on Wednesday, August 19, 2015. I was on a documentary crew filming Kobe at his office in Newport Beach, CA. After setting up, I went over to Starbucks across the street on a coffee run. I got in line, and who was standing in front of me but Kobe and Gianna? They stepped to the counter and placed their order. None of the employees were fazed by his presence, which told me he frequented that Starbucks often. I placed my order, and as he was about to leave, I got his attention and introduced myself. “I’m Lawrence with the crew that’s shooting you today at your office. Dang dog, I didn’t know you had so much going on!” Kobe had an office with MANY rooms, and in each room, there was a different project going on in some phase of development. “Well you’re going to learn a lot today, but you can’t tell anybody!” He reared his head back slowly and gave me that knowing look coupled with that famous grin. “Let’s go, G,” and he and his daughter walked out the door. Later on after the interview, I wanted to get a picture with him, but since I am always the professional at work, I didn’t press him when he said he had to leave. Now that I think about it, I should’ve hit him up at Starbucks in fan mode, so all I ended up getting were two shots from the balcony of his offices to show for my visit… and a call sheet.

The weather was ugly in LA today for a reason. It was ugly before I got the news about Kobe from a Facebook friend on Messenger. I then told my son and AirDropped the TMZ report from my phone to him. A slow unease gripped me for the rest of day. My sister was hysterical. I didn’t even talk to my mom today. Instead, I carried through with my plan to give my older son his first driving lesson and celebrate with pizza afterwards. I was supposed to watch the Grammys tonight with my girl, but the pizza got the best of me (To get an idea of my relationship with food the past few years, check out the blog posts Hospitalized, Hospitalized – Do, and Hospitalized – Redo) so I stayed home.

And this is what I wrote. Rest in power, KB.

View from Kobe Bryant’s office in Newport Beach, CA

Published by Loupy D

Lawrence Evan Dotson was born in Los Angeles, California. He decided early in life that he wanted to tell stories. He was a character who could entertain his two older sisters by staging his own version of a church radio broadcast that they would listen to on Sunday nights. His desire to perform followed him through grade school, and in his senior year of high school, a UCLA professor scouted and urged Lawrence to major in theater. Lawrence felt convicted to follow in the footsteps of his father, so instead of declaring Theater Arts as a freshman, he went in undeclared to sit out for a spot in the highly competitive Engineering Department. It only took one calculus class to convince Lawrence that Theater Arts was his calling and that he was going to achieve his goal of being recognized for his talents. While attending UCLA, he combined his interests in art and music and was one of the founders of the UCLA Jazz and Reggae Festival. He was on the Student Committee for the Arts, which put on the Jazz at the Wadsworth Series in conjunction with KKGO FM. Lawrence became more aware of social justice issues affecting the African American community on campus and became active in organizations that promoted positive change. He collaborated with students from other majors and formed the African Theater Collective, which promoted and produced plays from the African Diaspora. That action inspired a performance protest demanding the hiring of more black professors in the Theater Department, and tenure for longtime Professor, Dr. Beverly J. Robinson. The performance was based upon the subject matter that Dr. Robinson taught: the procession of the Black Theater experience in America as depicted through the development of the African slave from the plantations, to the pulpit, to the stage. Blessed with a wealth of knowledge and a rich experience from the University, Lawrence graduated and landed a job as an actor with University Express, an outreach program managed by a former student of Dr. Robinson. The troupe performed plays at Middle and High Schools that stressed the importance of continuing education. The job allowed him enough time to go on auditions, but after a year Lawrence burnt out on the acting treadmill. He met an editor for an underground Hip Hop magazine called No Sellout in 1991. Lawrence had his first article published in the second issue, an interview with L.A. DJ Michael Mixxin Moor. Lawrence began writing under “Loupy D”, coined from a childhood nickname. He wrote articles, reviews and commentary, and conducted interviews with some of Hip Hop’s top entertainers like The Notorious BIG, Wu Tang Clan, Erykah Badu and many others until 2003. In 2015, he earned an MFA in Creative Writing, after submitting a draft of a memoir based on his experiences growing up in post-Civil Rights Era Los Angeles. He's published an academic article, “Persona in Progression: A Look At Creative Nonfiction Literature In Civil Rights and Rap,” in Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies. He also served a brief stint as the music editor for the online writing journal Drunk Monkeys. In between writing stints, Lawrence has and continues to be an avid amateur photographer and independent film professional. He will be releasing books and videos of his work over time, just as soon as he figures out how to balance work life with the life of single parenting two sons.

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