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Commemorating the Bryants

Jan 26, 2020 was a dark day for many—especially for those close to the former professional basketball player, Kobe Bryant. Not only did his wife, Venessa Bryant, lose her husband, but she also lost her 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant, both of whom were among the nine people killed in the helicopter crash in California. 

Venessa Bryant has since been in an ongoing legal battle after filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the helicopter company. She also filed a complaint against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for alleged invasion of privacy and negligence.

Outside the family, celebrities have taken action to commemorate the legendary basketball player and basketball prodigy, Gianna Bryant. 

On the day of their death, the Empire State Building was lit in purple and gold in tribute. The Los Angeles Times headquarters also lit up Bryant’s silhouette for all to see. 

During late January, multiple NBA players changed their jersey numbers in order to informally retire Kobe and Gianna Bryant’s jersey numbers, eight and 24, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. While it technically takes a season to finalize Jersey changes, the NBA allowed these athletes to make an immediate switch. Even athletes in other sports took time to memorialize Kobe Bryant, such as professional tennis player, Naomi Osaka, ranked No. 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association. 

In a twitter post after the Bryants’ tragic death, Osaka shared a heartbreaking letter addressed to himalling him her big bro, mentor and inspiration. 

“Hey… I don’t really know what to do so I’m writing you this letter. Thank you for being you. Thank you for inspiring people everywhere, you have no idea how many hearts you’ve touched. Thank you for being so humble and not acting as big as you are. You will forever be my big bro/mentor/inspiration. Love you.

She also took to Instagram and posted a picture of herself in number eight Los Angeles Lakers jersey, holding her new trophy. She credited her late mentor, Kobe Bryant, and the strength he always provided her with. 

“I wore this jersey every day after my matches. I truly think it gave me strength. Always,” she wrote, along with yellow and purple heart emojis to match the Lakers’ team colors.

Former Laker star Pau Gasol also took his chance to commemorate Kobe in his own way. 

On Sept 13, Gasol and his wife Catherine McDonnell welcomed their first child together, a baby girl. In the post, they announced the new baby’s name as Elisabet Gianna Gasol, revealing his daughter’s name as a tribute to the late Gianna Bryant.

Kobe Bryant and Gasol’s relationship defined the Los Angeles Lakers from 2008 to 2011. Kobe famously proclaimed, “There is a God, there is meaning,” in a post-game interview, after Gasol’s debut with the Lakers in a 105-90 defeat of the New Jersey Nets.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Gasol refers to Kobe as his big brother, “I could always reach out to him for advice and run things by him—he’s left a huge void”. Gasol immediately connected with Vanessa Bryant following the news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s deaths, to let her know she had his support and wasn’t alone. He recently posted a photo with the whole family on Instagram calling Bryant’s daughters, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 1, his nieces, and calling Vanessa Bryant his sister. 

Kobe Bryant was one of the greatest basketball players. He was an 18-time All-Star and won five NBA championships during his 20-year career with the Lakers. He was an unstoppable duo with Shaquille O’Neal, leading the Lakers to three NBA titles in 2000, 2001 and  2002. He would later team up with Gosal to win two more titles in 2009 and 2010. Bryant’s last hurrah was scoring 60 points in his final NBA game in 2016. 

Many of his family members and fans are still mourning the unexpected loss of Kobe and Gianni Bryant. Kobe inspired many lives and it clearly shows through the ways people are continuously finding ways to commemorate him.