Every year, we reacquaint ourselves with grief. Yet in 2020, grief became the backdrop to everything. If it wasn’t a pandemic disproportionately affecting Black and Brown communities, it was unchecked police violence that robbed folks like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor of their lives. Just because the year featured death writ large, though, didn’t mean it wasn’t still capable of a punch to the gut — or three.
In the past 12 months, we lost a trio of Black men who loomed large, men who had spent their lives becoming legends. In January, it was Kobe Bryant, whose post-NBA career had seen him embrace the role of #girldad like few others in his profession. In July it was Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights legend who later wielded dignity and gravitas in a 17-term congressional career. And in August, it was Chadwick Boseman, whose death from undisclosed colon cancer hit all the harder for catching us by surprise. Only one played a superhero in a movie, but all three walked this Earth embodying the drive, conviction, and willingness to grow what truly marks a LEVEL man. As we spend the week celebrating our inaugural Best Man awards, we commemorate these icons among the honorees. They will be missed.