I was stunned when I heard a commentator on CNN compare the death of a basketball player to the assassination of a President of the United States.

Kobe Bryant was only 41 years old when his private helicopter crashed and he and his guests were killed. His teenage daughter died alongside him. He has left behind a wife and other children.

All decent people are heartbroken for his family and friends. I can't imagine the pain of this woman who has lost her husband and her daughter. I can't fathom the lifelong pain that will accompany his surviving children as they forever miss their oldest sister and their father.

As tragic as it is, it isn't in the same league as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Kobe Bryant was a great basketball player. He was also a controversial figure. He left the NBA and became an author of children's books. He had been accused of a crime, the charges were dropped, there was a settlement, but he was always dogged by the accusations. Despite admitting to infidelity, Kobe's wife stood by him and their marriage flourished and they had more children.

But his death isn't comparable to the assassination of JFK.

I remember when Andre McCoy, a great boxer from New Bedford, was killed in a plane crash in Poland in the spring of 1980. He was my father's student and I saw my father cry that day. McCoy was just 18 years old and destined for additional greatness in the ring. My father stood there in the kitchen for hours next to the radio holding out hope that there were survivors. There were no survivors.

I remember when John F. Kennedy, Jr. died in a private plane crash off the coast of Martha's Vineyard. Musicians like Buddy Holly, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Jim Croce died in aircraft failures. Democrat Senator Paul Wellstone and Democrat Lawrence P. McDonald were both killed in airline disasters. Congressman McDonald was blown out of the sky on a civilian airplane, KAL 007, by the Soviet Union in 1983 along with over 250 other innocent people.

Those were all terrible losses but nothing like what happened in Dallas on that November day in 1963.

Comparing the death of an athlete to the murder of President Kennedy does dishonor to both of the departed.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at chris.mccarthy@townsquaremedia.com and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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