It's not often that Kobe Bryant is caught off-guard.
On Sunday evening, the "Kiss Cam" at the Los Angeles Kings/Vancouver Canucks game caught Bryant with his family in the stands. They were enjoying the hockey game as well as taking in the action on the jumbotron during the timeout.
Bryant first appeared surprised to be captured on the screen before laughing and engulfing his eldest daughter, Natalia, in a hug and kissing her on the cheek.
It was a sweet moment.
A sweet moment that could have been made much more awkward had the camera panned out and caught Bryant and his estranged wife, Vanessa (who was also with Bryant and the girls), on the screen together.
Luckily, there wasn't any awkward; only a father watching a hockey game with his daughter, and that is awesome.
We forget sometimes that Bryant is more than a basketball player. He plays the part so well, his focus appears to be so singular, so…maniacal, that it seems impossible for him to have a life outside of the game. He does, though. And this is a great thing.
It's always good for fans to be reminded of this. That at the end of the day, the same superhero athletes accomplishing superhuman feats in their respective sports are sons and daughters themselves with their own children and spouses and family.
Take them away from the court/field/ice/etc., and they want the same things that we do. Take them out of the hunt for a championship ring or trophy, and their goals are simple ones. Normal ones. They want their children to grow into good people, to give back to their families, to make life easier for the ones who sacrificed so much for them.
It's important that we remember these things. It's fun to get caught up in rooting for our favorite athletes. Part of what makes sports so magical is the element of escapism that they provide. While indulging in that world, we also need to remember that the guys giving us the break also deserve a break sometimes. Or, in the very least, to be treated like human beings.