Lakers to unveil Kobe Bryant statue outside arena Feb. 8

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Friday, August 25, 2023
Lakers to unveil Kobe Bryant statue outside arena Feb. 8
The Lakers will unveil a statue of Kobe Bryant outside their downtown arena Feb. 8, making him the sixth former player from the team to be honored in "Star Plaza."

LOS ANGELES -- The Lakers will unveil a statue of Kobe Bryant on Feb. 8, the team announced along with Vanessa Bryant on Thursday morning.

Vanessa Bryant made the announcement in a video posted to the Lakers' social media accounts at 8:24 a.m. on Aug. 24, also known as Mamba Day as a reference to the Nos. 8 and 24 jerseys Kobe Bryant wore during his 20-year Lakers career. The statue date also ties Bryant's daughter Gianna into the ceremony, as she wore No. 2.

Kobe and Gianna Bryant were killed in a helicopter crash along with seven others in Calabasas in January 2020.

"On behalf of the Lakers, my daughters and me, I am so honored that, right here 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," Vanessa Bryant said in the video.

Bryant will become the seventh member of the Lakers organization to have a statue outside of Arena, joining Elgin Baylor, Shaquille O'Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Jerry West and broadcaster Chick Hearn.

He also joins a number of other athletes celebrated with statues outside the arena, including Wayne Gretzky, Luc Robitaille and Oscar De La Hoya.

The Lakers said Bryant participated in the initial planning of his statue. The ceremony will be held outside the arena and is "the first in a series of physical tributes to honor (Bryant's) legacy," the team said.

Nate Robbins spent several years working on his Kobe Bryant quilt, which was recently displayed at the Long Beach Quilt Festival.

"Kobe Bryant was one of the most extraordinary athletes of all time and one of the most iconic individuals in the history of Los Angeles," Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said in a statement. "There is no better place for Kobe to be honored with a statue than here, at the center of our city, where everyone can celebrate him and be inspired by his incredible achievements."

Rob Pelinka, who is the Lakers' vice president of basketball operations and general manager and was Bryant's agent, said Bryant will now have a physical presence at "a place on the hallowed ground Kobe created where we can all gather to pay honor to a mighty and great man."

The Lakers are set to face the defending champion Denver Nuggets the same day as the unveiling of Bryant's statue.

On Thursday night, the Ferris wheel at Santa Monica Pier is expected to be lit up in honor of Bryant.

The Laker legend's jersey numbers, 8 and 24, will be illuminated purple and gold in recognition of Kobe Bryant Day.

The 8/24 date is also known to fans as Black Mamba Day or simply Mamba Day, and was chosen to match Bryant's numbers, as well as it being the day after his birthday. Bryant would have turned 45 on Wednesday.

To mark the occasion, Nike debuted the Nike Kobe 8 Protro "Halo" shoe. The company said it partnered with Bryant's widow, Vanessa Bryant, who created the design for the sneaker.