He was one of the greatest basketball players of all time, but the job he loved even more was being a girl dad. And today, August 24, has been declared Kobe Bryant Day by Orange County. Bryant wore numbers 8 and 24 in the NBA, which is why they chose 8/24. It’s also one day after Bryant’s birthday, as Kobe would’ve turned 42 on Sunday.
It was a tragic helicopter crash in late January that claimed the lives of Bryant, his daughter Gianna, John Altobelli, his wife Keri and their daughter Alyssa; Christina Mauser; Ara Zobayan; Sarah Chester and her daughter Payton.
In the outpouring of grief in the aftermath, we learned a lot about Kobe. Players and coaches shared touching stories of how Kobe affected their lives, but one of the most touching was an ESPN anchor’s discussion with Kobe about how much he loved being a dad. Especially being a girl dad.
— Michael Eaves (@michaeleaves) January 28, 2020
On his birthday, there were a lot of special remembrances posted by his friends and from former teammates. If you’re starting with one, watch the tribute Nike put together. The moving video, narrated by Kendrick Lamar, explains how Kobe made us all better.
Kobe taught us to be better. A better scorer, better mentor, better father, better champion. Today, on his birthday, we continue his endless pursuit of better.
— Nike Basketball (@nikebasketball) August 23, 2020
The Players Tribune posted a touching video.
LeBron James posted a throwback to Bryant’s 30th birthday, and how they celebrated together.
The LA Dodgers all wore Kobe jerseys before their game Sunday, and they saw Kobe in everything they did.
.@Dodgers all wore Kobe jerseys before today’s game 🐍💙
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) August 23, 2020
-Corey HR on the 8th pitch
-Mookie HR on the 42nd pitch (Kobe’s birthday today)
-Kiké HR on the 62nd pitch (Kobe’s 62 points vs. Mavs)
-Cody’s 8th homer and his 24th hit
-11-3 win vs. Rockies (win by 8)
Kobe was here. pic.twitter.com/34Asm1Od0I
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 24, 2020
What’s been remarkable is the impact Kobe made on the sports and entertainment worlds. Even during the time of Covid, when the pandemic has thrown normal life into chaos, tributes and murals to Kobe keep popping up. At current count, there are more than 320 Kobe murals around the world. His partner in crime on the Lakers, Shaquille O’Neal, reflected on the enduring legacy of Kobe Bryant.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) August 23, 2020
But naturally, the most gut-wrenching tribute came from his wife Vanessa. She posted a picture of the two of them and a raw and emotional letter to her late husband. She said she’s been trying to stay strong for their other three children and that he’d be so proud of his girls.
Beautiful, heartbreaking words from Vanessa Bryant on Kobe’s birthday.
Wrapping her and their daughters in so much love and prayer. 💛💜 pic.twitter.com/NSGLCRUXZN
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) August 23, 2020
“God I miss you both so much,” she wrote. “Our lives feel so empty without you and Gigi. I’ve been completely broken inside. As much as I want to cry, I put a smile on my face to make our daughters days shine a little brighter. I’m not the strong one, they are.”
She also said she wishes they could all wake up from their horrible nightmare or that she could’ve taken the place of her husband and daughter.
“You were supposed to miss me. Gigi was supposed to be here with her sisters. It should’ve been me.”
Of course, the basketball world paid tribute to the legend on Sunday, and the Lakers will be wearing Black Mamba jerseys for game 4 of their series with Portland. Former teammate Pau Gasol also posted a touching tribute to Kobe, and Vanessa shared a sweet photo of Gasol with one of Bryant’s daughters on a recent boating trip. Gasol and his family have stayed close with the Bryant’s, as evidenced by a photo shared by Gasol.
View this post on Instagram
The sports world won’t forget Kobe Bryant for a long time. But even more important than the legacy he left on the court, is remembering him for what he loved most, being a dad.