It has been nearly six months since Kobe Bryant died in a tragic helicopter crash, and the NBA legend’s Instagram page remains active with more than 20 million followers. As of this week, the account now contains a special message.
Instagram has added the word “remembering” to Bryant’s profile.
Bryant has been on the minds of Lakers players as they prepare to finish the season inside the NBA’s bubble in Orlando. When Anthony Davis arrived in Orlando, he was wearing a shirt with Kobe and Bryant’s daughter Gianna on the front.
Pau Gasol, who was one of Kobe’s closest friends after they played together, recently visited with the Bryant family and spent time with Kobe and his wife Vanessa’s daughters. Expect to see plenty of tributes to Kobe in Orlando if the Lakers make a deep run.
It has been five months since Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna died in a helicopter crash, and Sunday was likely a very difficult day for the Bryant birthday.
While many families were celebrating Father’s Day, Vanessa Bryant posted a photo on Instagram of Kobe and the couple’s four daughters.
“Happy Father’s Day to the BEST daddy in the world. We miss you so much. We love you forever and always. Love, Nani, Gigi, BB, Koko and VB. #BestoftheBest #GirlDad,” Vanessa wrote.
Vanessa recently got new tattoos featuring messages from Kobe and Gigi. She has also been dealing with the legal fallout from the January crash, as she is suing the helicopter company and estate of late pilot Ara Zobayan over the fatal accident.
Kobe Bryant’s death hit those who grew watching him play particularly hard, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis is no exception.
Speaking with reporters this week, Davis said that he was changing his jersey number from No. 33 to No. 24 this season as a tribute to the late Los Angeles Lakers star. The 23-year-old also spoke in the impact Bryant had on his life.
“Kobe was my all-time favorite athlete ever since I was a kid,” said Davis, per Mark Inabinett of AL.com. “I really looked up to him and the way he carried himself as an athlete, the way he approached the game. His Mamba mentality was everything to me, something I adopted from a young age and I’ve always kept it with me. I’m a huge Lakers fan because of him.
“And just hearing about his death was just heart-breaking,” Davis went on. “I didn’t know what to think. I just hate to even think about it because it’s just so surreal that he’s really gone. He passed away way too soon. Yeah, I definitely switched my number because of him. He’s always been a guy who I chased after as far as his greatness and what he’s accomplished, so I would like to continue to do that with his number on.”
Davis, the former Auburn star, is about to enter his third NFL season. He made 14 starts for the Bucs in 2019, finishing fourth on the team with 60 combined tackles.
Several other NFL players will be making similar tributes to Bryant, the legendary five-time champion, including one on Bryant’s hometown team.
Kobe Bryant died on January 26, but his legacy lives on strong.
Klay Thompson shared photos on Instagram Live Friday of his copy of “The Mamba Mentality“, which is Bryant’s book. Thompson called the book his “basketball bible”. He also called it the “greatest gift” he ever received.
Bryant also signed the book for Thompson along with a simple four-word message: “rings, rings, rings, rings …”
Bryant was obsessed with winning and ended up collecting five championship rings during his playing career. He would stop at nothing in his quest to win. He was trying to impart that winning mentality to others across the basketball world, as well as other fields.
Thompson has won three championships as a member of the Golden State Warriors and is a five-time All-Star. He and Kobe had a good relationship; Bryant also sent Klay a great autographed jersey in 2016.
Thompson is very clearly was moved by the inspiration Bryant left him.
Vanessa Bryant is permanently memorializing her late husband and daughter, Gigi, through tattoos.
Vanessa shared videos on Instagram Wednesday of her getting tattooed. She said that she got a tribute to Gigi on her wrist.
“Shoutout to @nikkohurtado for coming over and helping me get my Gigi’s sweet message transferred on me. #throwbacktoFebruary,” Vanessa wrote.
She also got a tattoo message relating to Kobe around her shoulder/neck.
“I wanted my boo boo’s @kobebryant sweet message transferred on me. @nikkohurtado came through for me. Thank you! #inked #messagetransfer #BooBoo #throwback #tattooinmyhallway #QueenMamba #MambaMentality.”
It’s unclear what the exact messages Vanessa had tattooed on her, but she says they were messages relating to Kobe and Gigi. She says she got the work done in February.
That was after both Kobe and Gigi died on January 26 in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif. Current Los Angeles Lakers players LeBron James and Anthony Davis also got tattoos as tributes to Kobe soon after the Hall of Famer’s death.
Vanessa is currently suing the helicopter company and estate of late pilot Ara Zobayan over the fatal crash that killed nine people. Kobe was 41 when he died. Gigi was 13.
Shareef O’Neal was close with Kobe Bryant and paid tribute to the late former Laker with a cool jacket.
Shareef, who is the son of Shaquille O’Neal, shared a photo on Instagram Saturday that showed him wearing the style of jacket that Kobe wore after winning the NBA championship in 2002.
That was the third of three championships in a row won by the Lakers. They beat the Pacers in 2000, the 76ers in 2001, and they swept the Nets in the 2002 NBA Finals.
Shaq and Kobe teamed up for those three championships before the team broke apart. Shaq later won a championship in Miami, while Kobe won two more with the Lakers. Whatever tension that existed between Shaq and Kobe was later worked out by the two stars, and Shaq has spoken glowingly about Kobe since January’s fatal helicopter crash.
You may also recall that Kobe texted Shareef hours before his death. Shareef began his college basketball career at UCLA but has since transferred to LSU.
Daniel Rodriguez won his UFC fight on Saturday night and then appeared to dedicate his win to Kobe Bryant.
The 33-year-old fighter beat Gabriel Green via unanimous decision in their welterweight fight at UFC on ESPN: Woodley vs. Burns at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas. At the end of his fight, Rodriguez seemed to say “for Kobe.”
Rodriguez is from Los Angeles, which could explain his support of the late former Laker.
Rodriguez is now 12-1 in his pro MMA career.
Tarik Black got to see Kobe Bryant one last time before Bryant’s tragic passing in January, and it is a memory that will stay with him forever.
Speaking this week with Matt Tait of KUsports.com, the former Los Angeles Lakers big man shared the story of his final encounter with Bryant, which happened just one week before Bryant’s death. Black, who had been playing professionally in Israel, suffered an injury that sent him back to Los Angeles earlier than normal, and he was able to see Bryant for the first time since they were teammates nearly four years earlier.
“I actually got a chance to thank him for what he meant for my life,” Black said. “And he just kept saying, ‘I’m proud of you.’ So it rocked me to my core when I heard about his passing.
“This is the thing that’s tough to admit, but I didn’t really like Kobe growing up,” Black added. “He seemed cocky, arrogant. But that’s a real testament to him as a man, that he could change my opinion of him like that. I love him now. I’ll appreciate him and everything he did for me for the rest of my life.”
Black was teammates with Bryant on the Lakers for Bryant’s last two seasons in the NBA from 2015 to 2016. He also shared what it was like to witness Bryant’s final career game against the Utah Jazz in the interview with Tait.
Black’s story is certainly a haunting one and also very similar to the encounter that another former Bryant teammate had with him around the same time.
Watching ESPN’s highly-acclaimed documentary “The Last Dance” proved to be an eerie experience for Robert Horry.
Appearing this week on “Wireside Chat” with Houston Rockets broadcaster Craig Ackerman, Horry said that the series reminded him of his late teammate Kobe Bryant with the similarities between Bryant and Michael Jordan.
“I was there from the beginning when Kobe first came in the league as a rookie,” said Horry. “It’s so weird watching ‘The Last Dance’ and knowing that Utah was playing the Bulls. That’s the game [Game 5 of the 1997 Western Conference Semifinals] that kinda turned Kobe’s career. He shot an airball down the stretch, kinda went from [there to] going into the lab, working hard and trying to become the player he was.
“He was just a great teammate, a great player, one of the smartest players you could ever play with,” Horry continued about Bryant. “It’s so weird getting a chance to really watch Michael Jordan in ‘The Last Dance’ and hear the words that he uses and everything. It’s almost like Kobe just took everything he said, everything he did, his mannerisms, his language, his lingo, and just copied it. It’s like watching a ghost now, and I hate to use those terms, but to watch Michael Jordan is like, man. How did Kobe learn everything this dude did to a T and made it a little better in some areas.”
Horry was teammates with Bryant on the Los Angeles Lakers for Bryant’s first seven seasons in the NBA, including their run of three straight championships from 2000 to 2002. He also competed against Jordan for many years, having entered the league in 1992.
Bryant enjoyed a very close relationship with Jordan, which was spotlighted in part during Episode 5 of “The Last Dance” where Bryant gave Jordan credit for his success in the NBA. He was known to idolize Jordan and patterned his playstyle, leadership qualities, and competitive fire after that of His Airness. Even upon Bryant’s passing, Jordan was one of the speakers at his memorial service, and it is clear that the two will always share an inextricable link.
The Mamba Sports Academy was appropriately named in honor of Kobe Bryant after the NBA legend invested in the business venture back in 2018, but that name is changing now that Bryant is no longer living.
Sports Academy CEO Chad Faulkner, who partnered with Kobe for the athletic training venture two years ago, told ESPN’s Marc J. Spears on Tuesday that he is changing the name of the Mamba Sports Academy back to The Sports Academy. Faulkner said the decision was made out of respect for Bryant.
“Our beliefs and thoughts are Kobe is one of one. ‘Mamba’ is one of one,” Faulkner explained. “And with that as we carry on as The Sports Academy, it’s more appropriate to put Kobe in another Hall of Fame, if you will, and to really respect a legacy that is really unrivaled, frankly, and let that live on its own. We will continue to do the work we do.”
The decision is puzzling to many. It seems like it would make more sense to honor Bryant by keeping his nickname attached to the training center, but Faulkner doesn’t see it that way. Kobe was heavily involved with The Mamba Academy and hosted a workout and classroom tutorial with several of the NBA’s top players there. It would appear Faulkner thinks it is no longer appropriate to use Bryant’s nickname since Kobe can no longer be a part of that.
One other way The Sports Academy could honor Bryant is with a memorial at the Thousand Oaks and Redondo Beach locations.
“That will really end up being up to the desires of the family and to the respect of the family,” Faulkner said. “For us, we leave that up to the future. This is such a critical time for the family to keep working through the grieving process and everything they’re working for. We are going to play really conservative from that approach. We are all for it. … But it’s really not necessarily the right thing for us to do proactively.”
You have to assume Faulkner thought he was doing the right thing, but the decision to remove “Mamba” from the name is bizarre. The Mamba Academy was a huge part of Kobe’s life, and he and his daughter Gianna were on the way there at the time of their tragic helicopter crash.