Bryant's birthday is Aug. 23. The following day in the city of Los Angeles and Orange County is Kobe Bryant Day because the date (8/24) matches the No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys the Hall of Famer wore during his 20-year NBA career.
Those two days are bittersweet in Southern California and beyond, after the beloved player and his daughter Gianna were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash Jan. 26, 2020, in Calabasas.
Many celebrate Bryant's life and legacy. Bryant was a trending topic on social media Wednesday, with people posting heartfelt tributes on what would have been his 45th birthday.
Jeanie Buss was one of many people who commented on Bryant's post. "A timeless and inspiring love story ❤️❤️❤️❤️," the Lakers owner wrote.
When Team USA sang "Happy Birthday" to Kobe 🐍
Special moment ❤️💙 pic.twitter.com/sitaWj2WA8
— ESPN (@espn) August 23, 2023
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) August 23, 2023
Rapper Drake paid tribute to Bryant during a concert at Crypto.com Arena on Tuesday night after a fan apparently tossed a No. 24 Lakers jersey onstage. "Imma hold this up 'cause we got to show love to Kobe one time. Y'all make some noise for Kobe," the hip-hop star told the L.A. crowd, which was more than happy to oblige.
Nike chose Wednesday morning to relaunch its popular line of shoes bearing Bryant's name, dropping the Kobe 8 Protro Halos on its SNKRS app and in select stores. According to a Nike news release, Vanessa Bryant created the Halo concept and triple-white colorway and new shoes in the series will come out each year on Kobe's birthday.
Bryant's estate initially let his contract with Nike expire in 2021, with Vanessa telling ESPN at the time that it had become too difficult for everyday fans, rather than collectors, to purchase her husband's merchandise. She announced in March 2022 that the partnership with Nike would continue.
This year's Halos, the first Kobe sneakers released since then, sold out on SNKRS almost immediately, something Bryant warned fans about.
"Nike wanted this debut Halo Collection to be limited and collectible," she wrote on Instagram, "but the good news is Nike is working towards more units for future Kobe releases!"
On Thursday morning, the Lakers announced a Bryant statue will be unveiled outside Crypto.com Arena on Feb. 8, 2024.
Kobe’s legacy immortalized.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 24, 2023
Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier is using its Ferris wheel to honor Kobe again on Thursday night. The ride's light display will be in purple and gold and show both of Bryant's jersey numbers. The light show will take place from around 7:30 to midnight. The park will close at 5 for a private event, however, so the public will have to enjoy the tribute from afar or online.
Video game company 2K, which previously announced that Bryant will be featured on the cover of the upcoming "NBA 2K24," revealed a trailer and details on the Mamba Moments mode that will allow players to recreate iconic instances from throughout Kobe's career.
UCLA Health is continuing its yearly tradition of presenting babies born this week with Kobe care packages, according to an adorable Lakers tweet showing infants wrapped in team gear and wearing Bryant's numbers.
Team USA and Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr was asked about Mamba Day on Wednesday during a news conference ahead of the FIBA World Cup.
After sharing that Aug. 24 is his mother's birthday and giving her a shoutout, Kerr reflected on Bryant.
"I have great memories of playing against him during my career and then coaching against him late in his career," Kerr said. "To have had the good fortune to be in the NBA at the same time as one of the all-time greats, and to watch him, and to compete against him was really special. We all think about Kobe to this day and everything he meant to the league and to all of us."
The Dodgers are on the road this week, but they will pay tribute to the Black Mamba when they return. The team will be giving away special Dodgers jerseys honoring Bryant — with No. 8 on the front and No. 24 on the back — as part of a special ticket purchase for its Sept. 1 game against the Atlanta Braves.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.