After 20 years playing in the NBA, there are plenty of lessons that Kobe Bryant could disclose to his younger self, but he felt that there was one lesson that deserved the most attention.
On Wednesday, The Players Tribune published a letter that Bryant wrote to his 17-year-old self when he was drafted to play professional basketball. The lesson that Bryant bestowed upon his teenage self in the letter was "to invest in the future of your family and friends."
In the letter, the former Los Angeles Lakers star wrote that buying materialistic things for friends and family seems like the right thing to do, but it's not.
"You will come to understand that you were taking care of them because it made you feel good, it made you happy to see them smiling and without a care in the world — and that was extremely selfish of you," he wrote. "You were adding material things to their lives, but subtracting the most precious gifts of all: independence and growth."
Bryant suggested that buying materialistic things can turn into an addiction, and the alternative should be to invest into the strengths of loved ones.
"Use your success, wealth and influence to put them in the best position to realize their own dreams and find their true purpose," he wrote. "Put them through school, set them up with job interviews and help them become leaders in their own right."
While Bryant made about $1 million during his rookie season, he eventually ended up, at one point, making as much as $30 million a season during his career (not to mention money received in endorsements.)
Bryant's moving letter, while written to his younger self, is really a message directed at all younger people. It is an important reminder that the best way to help loved ones is not through giving materialistic things, but to give them the opportunities to succeed in their own endeavors.
"Trust me, setting things up right from the beginning will avoid a ton of tears and heartache, some of which remains to this day," he wrote.
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