At the beginning of 2020, two months before the monumental national lockdown, one major event in Los Angeles also sent shock waves throughout the entire world. Kobe Byrant, the beloved retired superstar of the Los Angeles Lakers died in a tragic helicopter accident on January 26, 2020, along with his daughter, Gianna Bryant, and seven other individuals. This devastating loss brought the entire world to immense pain, but the communities in the city of stars suffered the most. Shortly after the news of his death, different communities in Los Angeles gathered together around Staples Center in downtown for multiple days to express their grief, pay their respects, and celebrate the life that touched millions through his tenacity and passion for basketball. Gateway faculty and alumnus reflected on this unique communal phenomenon and gave unique insights to help us understand this city in mourning.


Dr. Debbie Steele

Dr. Steele provides insight on this complex communal grief experience by attributing it to our God-designed need for connection.

Debbie Steele
Professor of Christian Counseling
Dr. Debbie Steele is Professor of Christian Counseling at Gateway Seminary. Prior to Gateway, she was employed by the International Mission Board as an overseas missionary, serving for 12 years in the former Yugoslavia during the civil war, which lasted from 1988-2000. Since 2004, she has operated a private practice as a licensed marriage and family therapist, providing Emotionally-Focused Therapy and Bible-based counseling to the local community.

Pastor D.J. Jenkins

As a native of Southern California, Pastor Jenkins reflects on the countless moments of common grace shared by a community that grew up watching LA’s beloved superstar.

DJ Jenkins
Pastor of Anthology Church in Studio City
DJ is the pastor of Anthology Church in Studio City. After graduating with a BS in biology, DJ spent 9 years working with Cru – a national college parachurch ministry before moving to Studio City to plant Anthology Church with his wife. DJ received his Master of Divinity from Gateway Seminary in 2020.

Dr. Joseph Kim

Dr. Kim reflects on Kobe’s inspiring legacy and sees his “Mamba Mentality” as a reflection of the heart and soul of Angelenos.

Joseph J. Kim
Associate Professor of Intercultural Education
Dr. Joseph Kim is the associate professor of intercultural education at Gateway Seminary. Since 1994, Dr. Kim has been teaching in the areas of intercultural studies, leadership skills formation, and educational leadership. He has served as the English Ministry pastor at various Korean-American churches since 1990.