A 400-pound bronze sculpture of Kobe Bryant, wearing his No. 8 jersey and pointing his finger towards the sky, was unveiled on Thursday, February 8, 2024 at Crypto.com Arena. To commemorate the legacy of the Los Angeles Lakers legend, it was announced that the statue will be the first of three that will be placed outside the arena.
In a touching speech before the statue unveiling, Vanessa Bryant highlighted the importance of Los Angeles to her late husband.
“To the fans here in L.A., this is a special city Kobe was so proud to represent,” she said. “You welcomed him with open arms and have been so important to him, our family, and his legacy.”
Undeniably, Kobe Bryant’s impact on the city of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Lakers will live on forever. Here are our favorite reactions and tributes from L.A. and L.A. legends for the beloved Kobe Bryant:
Hours before the statue unveiling, NBA on TNT shared a heartfelt tribute video to Kobe with his former L.A. Lakers teammate, Shaquille O’Neal, narrating.
“He was the most competitive player I’ve ever seen, and the best teammate I ever had,” Shaq said.
NBA and Lakers Legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, also spoke at the beginning of Bryant’s statue unveiling ceremony. In his speech, he said, “A statue is a wonderful contradiction: It captures a person frozen in time, while at the same time acknowledges that the reason there is a statue in the first place is because that person is timeless. We’re all here today, to honor a man who represents, not just extraordinary sports achievement, but also Timeless values that inspire us all to try harder to be not just better, but our best. Thank you, Kobe.”
As the statue was unveiled to the public, Angelenos lined up outside of Crypto.com Arena, chanting “Kobe”
After the beautiful ceremony, NBA veteran and fellow Lakers legend, Earvin “Magic” Johnson shared his experience of the unveiling.
“We were also so impressed with how Vanessa and Lakers Owner Jeanie Buss designed Kobe’s statue. The details are incredible and it’s one of the best statues I’ve ever seen! Today was a great way to honor the life and legacy of Kobe Bryant!” Johnson shared.
Later in the day, the L.A. Lakers wore special Black Mamba jersey uniforms on their February 8 game against the Denver Nuggets. Lakers fans who attended the game also received a custom Mamba jersey.
The jersey also features a white heart patch with the No. 2, in honor of Gigi Bryant.
Bonus: Kendrick Lamar performed at his pre-Super Bowl show on February 8, wearing the Nike Kobe 6 Protro Grinch shoes, paying homage to Kobe Bryant. Lamar, the iconic multi-Grammy award winner and L.A. rap legend, has paid tribute to Kobe on many occasions.