Just over four years after a helicopter crash that took his life, the Los Angeles Lakers unveiled a statue of Kobe Bryant.
Kobe Bryant statue
The statue was unveiled outside Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Thursday. The design of the statue features Bryant wearing his white No. 8 jersey and striking a pose he made after his 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors in 2006, according to Yahoo Sports.
Inscribed on the base of the statue is his name, “Kobe Bean Bryant,” and his nickname, “Black Mamba.” Together with the pedestal, the bronze statue stands 19 feet tall. It will be available for public viewing beginning Friday morning, according to ABC7.
The unveiling ceremony
The ceremony on Thursday was attended by many Laker greats and hundreds of season ticket holders, according to ESPN. Former Lakers coach Phil Jackson, Laker legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, former Laker point guard Derek Fisher and Lakers owner Jeanie Buss all shared remarks.
Vanessa Bryant, Kobe Bryant’s widow, also spoke. “As I see today’s current generation of star players follow in Kobe’s footsteps with huge scoring games, I know he would take pride in knowing that he is still pouring inspiration into the game that was so special to him,” she said, per ESPN.
Bryant also said during the ceremony that the statue would be the first of three. The second statue will feature Kobe Bryant wearing his No. 24 jersey. The third will be a statue of both Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who also died in the helicopter crash in 2020.
Kobe Bryant’s life and career
According to Lakers Nation, Kobe Bryant was born on on August 23, 1978 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He grew up playing basketball and soccer in Italy. When he was 13, his family moved back to the U.S. and Bryant attended Lower Merion High School in Philadelphia. As junior, he was named Philadelphia Player of the Year, and as a senior he was named both Gatorade and Naismith High School Basketball Player of the Year, in addition to being a McDonalds All-American.
Bryant was drafted to the NBA straight out of high school, being selected 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets before being immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. From there, Bryant became one of the best players to ever play the game. He won five NBA championships, was selected as an All-Star 18 times, was the 2008 MVP, won two gold medals with team USA and finished his career with 33,643 career points, among several other awards and accomplishments.
In his last game on April 13, 2016, Bryant capped his amazing career by dropping 60 points on the Utah Jazz.
Reactions on X
Several prominent members and organizations in the basketball world shared their reactions to the statue unveiling on X, the site formerly known as Twitter.
Former Laker Magic Johnson shared about his experience at the unveiling.
Celtic legend Bill Russel posted about it too.
And “NBA on TNT” posted a tribute video to Bryant.