When Brooks Koepka was recovering from a serious wrist injury in early 2018, he found inspiration in a social-media post by Kobe Bryant.
Koepka screenshotted Bryant's post (which was directed at the Boston Celtics' Gordon Hayward, after he broke his ankle in a game) and set it as his phone background. As he recovered and rehabbed, Koepka looked it at “20 to 30 times a day, if not more.”
“Just pick it apart, see different things,” he told reporters Tuesday at the Saudi International. “It kind of helped me understand that it’s OK to be upset. I don’t want to say depressed, but you get pretty down, and just the fact that it’s OK to be down and figure it out and actually grow and enjoy the process because it sucks at the time. But what’s going to come out in the end is going to be a whole lot better and it makes you appreciate everything and look at it different.”
When Koepka returned to the PGA Tour, he was better than ever. He won two majors in 2018, added another last year and once again this week is the top-ranked player in the world rankings, a spot he’s held since last May.
Koepka was asked his reflections on Bryant this week in the wake of the tragic helicopter crash that claimed the lives of nine people, including Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. Koepka said he’d never met Bryant but was a “big, big Kobe fan.”
After hearing the news Sunday, Koepka said he cried.
“I just can’t imagine those last few seconds, having to hold your daughter and not know and not see the rest of your family again,” he said. “Made you really appreciate life and what you have, and golf’s a stupid game that we just play. It’s really not that important.
“I know everybody likes to think it is, but it’s not. Your family, your friends, everybody around you; the impact you might have on people is way more important than what I do out here and what I shoot.”