Within the last 365 days, the world has endured a global pandemic, a divisive political election and a social justice movement unlike any that the world has ever seen. Still, one of the time-stopping moments of the past year was the untimely passing of Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant and seven others in a horrific helicopter crash. In honor of the one-year anniversary of his passing, Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving and a number of other NBA stars have paid tribute to the late NBA legend.
"I'm able to wear the 2-4 on my finger every night, and when we play at Staples Center you see that 8 and 24 in the rafters and be able to just live his legacy on. There's a lot of things that die in the world, but legends never die, and he's exactly that. So, it's all about representing him," James said about Bryant after the Lakers defeated the Chicago Bulls on January 25.
Bryant and James have always shared a special relationship. From Christmas Day matchups to James joining the Los Angeles Lakers two years before Bryant's passing, the two were both competitors and allies. In his playing days and in his retirement, Bryant developed lifelong friendships with James, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Bill Russell and several other NBA legends.
Brooklyn Nets Point Guard Kyrie Irving was spotted wearing a Kobe Bryant jersey prior to his team's win against the Miami Heat on Tuesday. As he walked into the Barclays Center, he had only one thing to say to the cameras.
“You know who I was rockin’ tonight,” Irving said.
Kobe Bryant tributes have extended beyond the NBA and into the WNBA. Kobe Bryant was not only a hero to young men hoping to play in the league, but he was also a hero to many players in the WNBA. After retiring from the NBA, he and his daughter, Gianna, would attend a number of women's college basketball and WNBA games. Most notably, the Bryants developed a relationship with Sabrina Ionescu at the University of Oregon. Ionescu, now a pro playing for the New York Liberty, paid homage to the late icon.
"I carry Kobe and Gigi with me every day and honor their legacies through my dedication to the game. I wake up every day grateful for the platform I’ve been given and I strive to lead by example and serve as a role model for young people and especially girls to pursue sports — a platform Kobe and Gigi were passionate about," Ionescu told Yahoo! Sports.
"I saw the way he supported his family and his constant advocacy for women’s basketball. His encouragement and promotion of equality in sports along with his Mamba Mentality is what motivates me today."
From the world of basketball to the average American, Bryant's impact is everlasting. As the world mourns his passing, he, Gianna and the seven others who lost their lives on January 26 are looking down in support.
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