Lakers legend Kobe Bryant tragically passed away on Jan. 26 at the age of 41. Bryant was in a helicopter on his way to a travel basketball practice, when the helicopter crashed, killing Bryant, his second oldest daughter, Gianna, and seven others who were aboard the helicopter. News of the helicopter crash spread quickly, with TMZ being the first to report the story.
Fans living in Los Angeles showed up to Staples Center to send their prayers to everyone involved. People left pairs of Bryant’s signature shoes, basketballs, flowers, photographs and more around Staples Center.
Murals appeared all over the country. The Philippines even made headline news for some of the murals that were painted there.
Bryant had a lengthy NBA career, as he was the third youngest player to ever appear in an NBA game, at just 18 years and 72 days old. Throughout his twenty year basketball career, he won the NBA Finals MVP award in back to back years, in 2009 and 2010, and won the league MVP award in 2008.
Individual NBA teams decided to honor Bryant in different ways. On the day Bryant passed away, every game started out by the teams taking either a 24 second violation or an 8 second violation. Bryant played the first ten seasons of his career wearing number 8, and the last ten seasons wearing number 24.
Many teams have featured players who decided to wear one of Kobe’s numbers for the games they played after Kobe passed away. Some teams have decided to formally retire the number 24 in his honor, including the Mavericks, whereas others have chosen to informally retire his number by having their players switch their numbers away from 8 or 24.
The league decided to postpone the Lakers vs Clippers game that was scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 28, “out of respect to the Lakers organization,” according to a statement that was released by the NBA.
Senior Allen Dixon, a lifelong Lakers fan, who started playing basketball because of Bryant, talked about what he has done to pay tribute to Bryant.
“I wore his jersey on Tuesday, I wore a Los Angeles Lakers hoodie to school on Wednesday, and I plan to wear other Lakers apparel throughout the rest of the week,” he said.
Dixon, who has released a number of songs on Spotify, said that he will make a song in Bryant’s memory, although he is unsure if he will release it or not.
An online petition started, with over three million online signatures, fighting to change the NBA logo. Lakers legend Jerry West is currently featured, but fans would like to see it changed to Kobe instead.
Bryant was honored at the NFL Pro Bowl, when a group of players reenacted his signature fadeaway as a celebration
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that the league is going to find a way to honor Bryant at the Super Bowl on Feb. 2.
Alicia Keys honored Bryant at the Grammys, which took place at Staples Center, saying, “We’re literally standing here in the house that Kobe Bryant built.”
Off the court, Bryant was a devoted father to four girls, Natalia, Gianna, Bianka, and Capri. After retiring from basketball, he put all his focus on his daughters, coaching their teams and going to all their games.
Rest in peace, Kobe, Gigi, Payton, Alyssa, Keri, Christina, John, Sarah, and Ara.