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Why It Matters That Michael Jordan Cried at Kobe’s Memorial

Dear Michael Jordan,

Thank you for crying visibly. This may come off as a strange “thank you,” but I wanted to convey how moved I was by your eulogy at the memorial for Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant and others.

To so many people, you, Mr. Jordan, are the archetype of masculinity. Your name, your nicknames and even your number itself are synonymous with strength, greatness, wealth and style. Shoes bearing your name and likeness are worn by children and teenagers all over the United States and the world, sometimes before they can even talk. But you knew all of that already.

It was inspiring to watch your public display of emotion in remembrance of your “little brother,” Kobe Bryant. Coming from someone of your legacy and stature, such a powerful expression of emotion and mourning did more positive than you may realize. In addition to helping others mourn and heal, you showed true strength. Your tears and words showed millions of young men that it is appropriate, healthy and masculine to be emotional.

Too often, we are taught to avoid and shove away any strong emotions we experience, especially those of sadness. Stoic figures are seen as stronger leaders. Young boys are instructed to “man up” and stop their tears. These are harmful practices which you challenged with a simple act of defiance when you teared up and expressed your love for your “little brother.”

One of my favorite quotes from Kobe was when he said: “Pain doesn’t tell you when you ought to stop. Pain is the little voice in your head that tries to hold you back because it knows if you continue you will change.” Truer words were never spoken, especially when it comes to emotional pain. By not avoiding our emotions, and instead by allowing ourselves to experience them, we become healthier people and a healthier society.

I hope you realize the impact of your speech, and specifically the manner in which you spoke. Thank you for expressing yourself and allowing others to do the same.

My condolences for your loss, and may you find comfort swiftly.

An emotional man.

Image via Wikimedia Commons/DOD photo by D. Myles Cullen

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