Vanessa Bryant announced during her speech that two more statues of her husband will be unveiled in the future
Kobe Bryant's legacy has been further immortalized by his former team, the Los Angeles Lakers.
On Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, a date aligning with the basketball legend's (and his daughter's) iconic jersey numbers — 2, 8 and 24 — the Lakers unveiled Bryant's statue outside of the Crypto.com Arena.
The ceremony, which took place ahead of the team's game against the Denver Nuggets, featured speeches from former Lakers coach Phil Jackson, legendary player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe's former teammate, Derek Fisher and Lakers owner Jeanie Buss. The late athlete's wife, Vanessa Bryant also spoke and announced plans for two more statues of her husband.
Hall of Famer Abdul-Jabbar, 76, shared, "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 and inspires us all to try harder, to be not just better, but our best," he concluded.
Fisher, 49, who played with Bryant, focused his speech on how "dedicated" his late teammate was to fatherhood. "His commitment to fatherhood was unwavering, just as his dedication to the game was. He intentionally balanced the demands of competition and family life," said Fisher.
Bryant's former coach provided insight into the player's state of mind throughout his historical career — and highlighted Kobe's most memorable plays. Jackson, 78, then shared with the crowd the moments he was most proud of Kobe.
He recalled after the Lakers beat the Boston Celtics in 2010, the team was invited on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and the host poked fun at Adam Morrison. As the jokes continued, Kobe took to his teammate's defense, provoking an immense sense of pride from Jackson.
Vanessa, 41, who married Bryant in 2001, thanked the fans for their support throughout the years. "Kobe has so many people that have supported him all over the world from the very beginning and this moment isn't just for Kobe, but it's for all of you that have been rooting for him all of these years," said Vanessa.
Elsewhere in her speech, Vanessa confirmed that two more statues will be built in front of Crypto.com Arena. The first is one showing him wearing the No. 8 and another will feature Bryant with their late daughter Gianna.
"On behalf of the Lakers, my daughters and me, I am so honored that, right in the center of Los Angeles, in front of the place known as 'The House That Kobe Built,' we are going to unveil his statue so that his legacy can be celebrated forever," she said at the time.
Bryant is the seventh Laker to receive such an honor — joining the likes of Elgin Baylor, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Jerry West and Chick Hearn — who have all had statues erected outside of the arena.
The statue, which has been cast out of bronze, is a testament to Bryant's legendary accolades within the NBA, specifically with the Lakers. This included five NBA championships, two nods as a Finals MVP and being named an All-Star 18 times while he was signed to the team.
Illinois-based sculptors Omri Amrany and Julie Roblatt-Amrany created the statue, per NBC Los Angeles. The couple has been previously picked to create all of the other statues outside of the arena.
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After the statue unveiling, the Lakers will don 'Black Mamba' uniforms while they play the Nuggets, per a post from the team on Instagram.
The special edition uniforms feature black snakeskin print, 'LA 24' emblazoned on the belt and Bryant's 8 and 24 jersey numbers printed on each knee of the shorts, respectively.
Upon Bryant's 2016 retirement, he was lauded as one of the most significant basketball players in the NBA's history.
On May 15, 2021, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
That same year, Bryant was announced as a part of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team, which saw a "blue-ribbon panel of current and former NBA players, coaches, general managers and team and league executives, WNBA legends and sportswriters and broadcasters" vote on the 75 greatest players in NBA history.
To this day, Bryant is the only Lakers player to have both of his jersey numbers retired and hanging inside the Cypto.com Arena.
The Bryant statue will be open to the public on Friday, beginning at 10 a.m.
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