The Philippine Star
AFTER OVER A DECADE OF SEPARATION, BASKETBALL SENSATION Kobe Paras reunited with his mom Jackie Forster last January and the mother-and-son tandem has since become visibly present in each other’s lives.
When Jackie flew in to the Philippines from London, where she is now based, to also reconnect with Kobe’s elder brother Andre last summer, she cheered for Kobe from the stands as he suited up for the Gilas Pilipinas cadets in the Filoil Flying V Pre-Season Cup. Kobe treasures his mom’s presence and support. “It is really important because she is my mom and she has been there ever since. Even though we haven’t talked, in spirit she is there and I know she has been praying. I really feel it. At least now, we’re all together, we’re happy and there’s nothing more I can ask for,” says Kobe.
Kobe shares that he, too, prayed for their reconciliation to happen. And though it took time, it came when he had completely healed from the wounds of the past.
“Yes, of course (I also prayed for it). What we went through was very difficult and very challenging. But at the same time, it’s a blessing from God because an act of forgiveness is not something you do right away. It takes time. Forgiving my mom took a lot of maturity for me. It’s not just saying ‘I forgive you’ but you still think about what happened. Because a lot of people, when they forgive, they still think about the past. But for me, I just want to move on and be happy with my life,” he says.
Kobe, now 20, just enjoys the time he gets to spend with his mom, as well as with his younger half siblings Jared, Caleigh and Yohan, whom he first met last February.
His mom Jackie and dad Benjie Paras are separated and have families of their own.
“I am used to being a kuya because with my dad, I still have siblings from his side. I’m just really happy that I have a lot of siblings. I just really love family. I just love kids because they are gullible and really fun to hang out with,” he shares.
Kobe strengthened his bond with his mom in just half a year, discovering along the way that he takes after her in a lot of things.
“She is funny just like Kuya (Andre) and me. My mom and I both love shopping, food,
hanging out with friends. We both like hip-hop and just good music. She has good taste in music. It’s just crazy to think that even though she is her age right now, she still has great taste in music. We’re both family-oriented and caring because my mom is really such a caring person,” he says.
And while it is a given that Kobe got his basketball skills from his dad, the only PBA RookieMVP Benjie, he discovered that his other interest, fashion, is what he got from his mom.
“I love fashion. I love fashion as much as I love basketball. That’s one thing I’m really passionate about. I want to show my art with the way I dress up,” shares Kobe, who bared plans to pursue a business in fashion once he is financially capable.
“We send each other pictures of outfits we like or what’s trendy, then we just talk about it so it’s pretty cool. I got my fashion sense from my mom. It’s funny because with Dad, we both like basketball and we share the same fight in us to win games. With my mom, it’s more of fashion and a sense of my personality,” he adds.
Kobe shares that he could freely talk about anything with his mom and though he has not consulted her about his plans in his basketball career, she has given him advice.
Last March, Kobe cut short his collegiate career in the US, announcing that he would instead turn pro. He came back to the Philippines and focused on his commitments with Gilas Pilipinas.
Kobe was a sophomore high school standout at La Salle Greenhills when he decided to take his talents to the States. He suited up for Cathedral High School in Los Angeles where he averaged 15 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.5 steals, then played his senior year with Middlebrooks Academy and was rated a three-star prospect. Though playing for Middlebrooks, Kobe finished his high school studies at Cathedral High School, where he was also an honor student.
“I’ve always had a fight in me to prove people wrong. When I was in the States, a lot of people would say I’m stupid. They would think that if you’re an athlete, you don’t do anything in school. I’m just happy I got to prove people wrong on that score.”
After an earlier commitment with the University of California, Los Angeles in college did not pan out, Kobe suited up for Creighton University, norming 1.3 points and one rebound in 4.7 minutes of play in 15 games before transferring to California State University, Northridge, where he redshirted for a season until his coach Reggie Theus got fired, leading to his return to the Philippines.
“She just keeps telling me to focus and to never give up in what I want. Because if you really love something, you just have to chase it. My mom is a great example of chasing what you really want. My mom keeps telling me, you know, in life, it’s more than just basketball and fashion. You will go through a lot of things. All you need to do is to relax and have fun because life is short,” says Kobe.
And Kobe does indeed go by this principle – to live life and be happy. Coming home from the
US where he carried the Filipinos’ NBA dream, Kobe has made a decision to live for his own happiness and not for others’ expectations.
“It’s not really my fault that I don’t fulfill anyone’s expectations. I just want to be happy with the way I live life. One thing people understand is that very important in life is mental health. It’s not healthy if you’re always forced to do things. In my case, my whole life was basically planned by the public, like they want me to do this or that. So when I stopped pleasing people, that’s when I realized that I just need to focus on my happiness,” he says.
“Everything that has been happening in my life is really unexpected. My life since I left for the States was unexpected. Everything’s coming out of nowhere but at the same time I’m just really happy because everything that’s happening right now is really a blessing.”
Though he earlier revealed plans of going pro, he bares that nothing is penciled in his calendar apart from his commitments with Gilas. Same goes for the possibility of continuing his collegiate career. His studies are also on hold. As a college freshman, he took up lifestyle management in Creighton then enrolled in event planning when he transferred to Cal State Northridge. But he is undecided yet on what to pursue, as he has varying interests.
“I’m just focused on Gilas right now. There’s nothing I can really tell you to expect. I have no promises. I just want people to wait and see what happens. I think that’s the beauty of my life, everything is unexpected. A lot of people, when they plan, they stress on it like, at this time of the year, I want to be a doctor or an engineer. It’s stressful if I plan it and I won’t get to follow it. I just try to live life the right way and just be happy,” he says.