A drawing of a pair of wings on a basketball jersey labelled '24'.
Kobe Bryant's LA Lakers jersey number was 24. Illustrated by Martin Walker

I am surprised by the many people who have involved themselves in advocacy for ending homelessness in our country. I am an advocate with lived experience, which gives me a unique perspective because I can share my real-time experiences and knowledge of the sheer difficulty of the issue.  

I frequently learn of people doing great things for those experiencing homelessness. One in particular was the late five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant. Unfortunately, it was only through his untimely passing that I learned he cared about homelessness. This gives me hope people with money or some sort of glamour from the entertainment world have some compassion that motivates them into action against homelessness.  

Kobe showed he cared by helping the United Way in Los Angeles, where he played for the Lakers, to provide various services to people experiencing homelessness. Yet despite all Kobe’s glamour and recognition, the media did not do justice toward his activism against extreme poverty. There are very few quotations from him, and the only pictures of his work in this area exist with the United Way and the many fans who snapped selfies or took photos of him during their runs for the homeless. 

This and other failures to highlight homeless issues are one of many reasons I question media’s position on poverty. All it wants to do is cover removals, overdoses, and annual deaths. Very rarely will the media discuss the positive sides of poverty, such as Kobe’s conscious participation even though it was “just a photo shoot.” The United Way staff, management, and runners did not give that impression. 

I write all this to ask where is the media when a star like Kobe is doing positive things for the homeless? Why is that not a significant story to be told over more than just social media? Why does it receive the attention only after he dies? It really makes me wonder.  

I wish I could have had the chance to meet Kobe at an event to help the homeless so I could share ideas and solutions about the problem. This media issue is something I must bring to life because the media should emphasize the many of us who care.  

Reginald Black is a Street Sense vendor and contributor.