Blue Bloods star Donnie Wahlberg struggled to find the right words for the moment after Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant died on Sunday. Although the actor and New Kids on the Block member is a lifelong Boston Celtics fan, he always respected Bryant and told PopCulture.com this week that his death should be a wake-up call for many. Bryant's sudden death should remind everyone just how fragile and precious life is.
"Sometimes there really just aren't words," Wahlberg said. "I'm going to find some right now. What I mean is we can try to intellectualize tragedies and try to understand what we're going through, but when this happened, it just seemed like so many people had the same reaction. It was just a serious pain. It wasn't an intellectual thing. It was an emotional thing. People just felt shock and sadness."
Wahlberg said he first learned about Bryant's death from his son, whom Wahlberg called a "student" of basketball.
"He was heartbroken," Wahlberg said. "He'd seen Kobe play when he was a little boy in person and knew of Kobe, but since he's gotten into the game more, he rates all the different all time greats and has become a big fan of Kobe."
Whalberg said he might root for the Celtics, but he never rooted against Bryant. Basketball fans saw Bryant grow over 20 years, and "even if you didn't root for him, he just connected to so many moments in our lives," Wahlberg noted.
"I remember the night he scored 81 points," Wahlberg said of Bryant's legendary 2006 game. "I was going through some personal stuff at the time. I was with friends and that lifted me. For that one night, it really lifted my spirits up watching him do that. And as I said, I was a Celtics fan."
"I can't really put it into words," Wahlberg later explained. "I think it just reminds us all of how fragile life is and how precious it is. And when somebody that full of life and that gracious can be taken away and with his beautiful young daughter, I think it kind of knocked everyone into a sense of reality that life is so precious and we really... We're so buried into all this anger and politics and all this different stuff and then somebody so strong and gifted is gone in the blink of an eye, and young. He's gone. I think it woke a lot of people up."
Whalberg's words echo a comment Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban made on Twitter Monday.
"I hope we all remember that Kobe and Gianna have brought our country closer together than anyone has in a generation," Cuban wrote. "Their memory truly is a blessing that we should build on."
Wahlberg agreed, noting how "awful" it was that it took a tragedy like Bryant's death to remind people online that we should be kind and love one another.
"I really hope that somehow people can learn from this and see how we came together and how we had a collective love on that day and a collective support for each other and the passion and the compassion and love for his family in that moment," Wahlberg said. "I hope we can somehow stay connected to that."
"If there's any positive that could come out of this, it's that we might wake up to come out of the fog of anger and despair that we're all in and remember that we're here and we're only here for a short time and we really need to love and respect each other while we are here," the actor said.
Photo credit: Theo Wargo/Getty Images