I wrote "The New Nine" to honour the memory of Kobe Bryant and the eight other people who lost their lives in the helicopter crash in 2020.
The piece is below and can also be viewed on my website

The New Nine (In memory: 2/24/20)

Saint Peter stood at the gates of heaven as he always did, but onlookers started to gather. A solitary job, it was unusual that so many angels and departed souls were interested in the arrival of a group of nine people– dubbed ‘the New Nine’– whom Saint Peter expected to greet momentarily on the morning of Sunday, January 26th, 2020.
It would be a tragedy on Earth; Saint Peter knew that family members and friends of the New Nine were about to suffer unimaginable shock and heartache, for there was no warning of the impending event that would unite basketball fans around the world. As news of the helicopter crash spread, basketball players would honour the most famous of the nine by taking eight and 24-second violations; a moment of silence to show respect for one of the greats taken too soon. Tearful interviews and outpouring of love and condolences would follow. 
Fans would gather to pay their respects. Some would talk about how one of the nine singlehandedly inspired their love for the game. No matter what jersey they sported during the season, they would discuss his greatest plays, as they found solidarity in their shared admiration for an athlete beloved; an athlete who inspired and achieved greatness during an impressive career spanning two decades, though his life was cut short in a little over four. He was a man, a father, and a husband who had achieved the status of a basketball legend and would be forever remembered that way.
Three of the nine would arrive before Saint Peter as children; girls who had barely entered their teenage years. Though the glory of the afterlife would overtake them once they arrived, Saint Peter knew that people on Earth would mourn the years of their lives that these three girls were made to forfeit, missed milestones and rites of passage they would have no earthly right to experience. As the people who knew and loved the three girls would be sent into grief-stricken shock upon hearing the news, parents would hug their children a little tighter that night, as humanity was reminded that even if you have it all, the time for which you have it is never guaranteed.  
The New Nine would pass through the pearly gates together. In time, some left behind would find solace in that.  
“The basketball court is ready. They’ll want to play,” Saint Peter said to the crowds of souls who had gathered. He looked at a bright light shining in the distance. “That’s them. Our new stars have arrived,” he announced confidently to the onlookers, who were eager to welcome the New Nine. 
May the light the departed brought to the world continue to shine through the love and cherished memories of those they touched. 
Rest in peace, Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan. 
Note from the author:
If loved ones of any of the people who perished on January 26, 2020, read this post, I am so sorry for your loss. Please accept the condolences of your friends north of the border.
*Please note that I offer an audio version of The New Nine on YouTube
© 2020 Amber Green
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