Two days in late August hold special significance for fans of late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
Bryant’s birthday is Aug. 23. The following day in the city of Los Angeles and Orange County is Kobe Bryant Day because the Aug. 24 date matches the No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys the Hall of Famer wore during his 20-year NBA career.
Those two days are certainly bittersweet for folks in Southern California and beyond, after the beloved player and his teenage daughter, Gianna, were among the nine people who died in a helicopter crash Jan. 26, 2020, in Calabasas.
But many choose to use the opportunity to celebrate Bryant’s life and legacy.
Bryant was a trending topic on social media Wednesday, with folks posting heartfelt tributes on what would have been his 45th birthday.
“Happy birthday, baby. I love you always & forever. ❤️,” his wife, Vanessa Bryant, wrote on Instagram. She also posted numerous photos of herself and her husband kissing, cuddling and/or holding hands.
Jeanie Buss was one of many celebrities who commented on Bryant’s post. “A timeless and inspiring love story ❤️❤️❤️❤️,” the Lakers controlling owner wrote.
Rapper Drake paid tribute to Kobe Bryant during a concert at Crypto.com Arena on Tuesday night after a fan apparently tossed a No. 24 Lakers jersey onstage. “Imma hold this up ‘cause we got to show love to Kobe one time. Y’all make some noise for Kobe,” the hip-hop star told the L.A. crowd, which was more than happy to oblige.
Nike chose Wednesday morning to relaunch its popular line of shoes bearing Bryant’s name, dropping the Kobe 8 Protro Halos on its SNKRS app and in select stores globally. According to a Nike news release, Vanessa Bryant created the Halo concept and triple-white colorway and new shoes in the series will come out each year on Kobe’s birthday.
Bryant’s estate had initially let his contract with Nike expire in 2021, with Vanessa Bryant telling ESPN at the time that it had become too difficult for everyday fans, rather than collectors, to purchase her husband’s merchandise. She announced in March 2022 that the partnership with Nike would continue.
This year’s Halos, the first Kobe sneakers to be released since then, sold out on SNKRS almost immediately, something Bryant had warned fans about a day earlier.
“Nike wanted this debut Halo Collection to be limited and collectible,” she wrote on Instagram, “but the good news is Nike is working towards more units for future Kobe releases!”
Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier is honoring Kobe Bryant on Thursday night via its Ferris wheel. The ride’s light display will be in purple and gold and will show both of Bryant’s jersey numbers. The light show will take place from around 7:30 p.m. through midnight and can be viewed online.
The Dodgers are on the road this week, but they will pay tribute to the Black Mamba when they return. The team will be giving away special Dodgers jerseys honoring Bryant — with No. 8 on the front and No. 24 on the back — as part of a special ticket purchase for its Sept. 1 game against the Atlanta Braves.