Kobe Bryant statue: Everything we know ahead of the big unveiling

Kobe Bryant statue: Everything we know ahead of the big unveiling
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LOS ANGELES - On Thursday, a bronze statue honoring legendary Laker Kobe Bryant will be unveiled in downtown Los Angeles outside the Crypto.com Arena, joining the likes of fellow sports legends.

The big unveiling represents a significant day marking 2/8/24 – all numbers that honor both jersey numbers Bryant wore during his NBA career, No. 8 and No. 24, as well as Gianna Bryant, who wore No. 2.

Whether you still refer to it as the Staples Center or call it by its current name, the Crypto.com Arena, it will always be known as the "House that Kobe Built." In 1999, the Los Angeles Lakers made the move from the Forum in Inglewood to Staples Center. That season, the Lakers won their first championship in what would become a three-peat in the Kobe and Shaq era. Bryant, who spent his entire 20-year career as a Laker, went on to win two more titles.

In those 20 years, Kobe Bryant helped deliver some of the most monumental moments inside the arena in Lakers history, including his historic 81-point game.

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<div>Kobe Bryant (L) of the Los Angeles Lakers holds the Larry O'Brian trophy as teammate Shaquille O'Neal (L) hold the MVP trophy after winning the NBA Championship against Indiana Pacers 19 June, 2000 series. (AFP/AFP via Getty Images)</div> <strong>(Getty Images)</strong>
Kobe Bryant (L) of the Los Angeles Lakers holds the Larry O'Brian trophy as teammate Shaquille O'Neal (L) hold the MVP trophy after winning the NBA Championship against Indiana Pacers 19 June, 2000 series. (AFP/AFP via Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

It’s also where fans gathered after learning about his tragic passing.

Devastated and looking for answers, fans flocked to the arena on what also fell on the night of the 2020 Grammy Awards to pay tribute to the basketball icon.

<div>People gather around a makeshift memorial for former NBA and Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant after learning of his death, at LA Live plaza in front of Staples Center in Los Angeles on January 26, 2020. (Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)</div> <strong>(Getty Images)</strong>
People gather around a makeshift memorial for former NBA and Los Angeles Lakers player Kobe Bryant after learning of his death, at LA Live plaza in front of Staples Center in Los Angeles on January 26, 2020. (Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

That evening, the Grammys started with a somber tribute to Mr. Bryant. Boyz II Men joined Grammys host Alicia Keys to sing "It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday."

Gone but not forgotten, Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong throughout the arena, and it’s only fitting his bronze statue would be placed outside the house that he built.

<div>Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers smiles during the post game news conference after scoring 60 points in the final game of his NBA career at Staples Center on April 13, 2016. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)</div> <strong>(Getty Images)</strong>
Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers smiles during the post game news conference after scoring 60 points in the final game of his NBA career at Staples Center on April 13, 2016. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

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What other athletes have statues outside the Crypto.com Arena?

<div>Los Angeles Lakers legends Ervin Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal share a laugh with Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)</div>
Los Angeles Lakers legends Ervin Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O'Neal share a laugh with Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Other sports icons with statues outside the Crypto.com Arena are fellow legendary Lakers Shaquille O'Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, and Elgin Baylor. Former professional boxer Oscar De La Hoya, sportscaster Chick Hern, and Hockey Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille are also commemorated with statues outside the arena.

See a gallery of the statues below.

Who designed the Kobe Bryant statue?

Kobe Bryant idolized Michael Jordan and to honor his legacy and to give him the best of the best, the same sculptor behind the iconic statue in Chicago also designed Kobe Bryant’s.

<strong>(Getty Images)</strong>
(Getty Images)

Julie Rotblatt Amrany is part of the dynamic married duo behind some of the nation’s most renowned sculptures. In addition to Michael Jordan, they also designed statues for Dirk Nowitzki, Hank Gathers, A’ja Wilson, Barry Sanders and Vince Lombardi.

"He was much more than just an athlete. He gave back to society and he was a warm, caring, giving individual. He cared about his family, his community and wanted to give back so I think he was larger than life in that way," she said about Bryant's legacy.

So, what does she hope for when people see the statue?

"I hope that they feel something when they stand in front of it that brings up something in them that makes them feel something that it's not about like an intellectual puzzle game effect, but more about the human condition," Amrany said.

Who announced the unveiling?

On Kobe Bryant Day 2023, Vanessa Bryant announced the upcoming unveiling ceremony in a social media video posted by the Lakers.

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"As you know, Kobe played his entire 20-year NBA career as a Los Angeles Laker," Vanessa Bryant said. "Since arriving in the city and joining the Lakers organization, he felt at home here playing in the City of Angels."

She continued to say, "On behalf of the Lakers, my daughters and me, I’m so honored that right in the center of Los Angeles, in front of the place known as "The House that Kobe Built," we are going to unveil his statue so that his legacy can be celebrated forever. Hope to see you there."

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When is the unveiling ceremony?

The unveiling ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 8 beginning at 3 p.m., outside the Crypto.com arena. Fans with game tickets for Thursday night's Lake Show will not have access to the unveiling ceremony. However, FOX 11 has you covered and will stream the event live that afternoon.

Are there tickets available?

The NBA said in a previously released statement that "due to logistical conditions, there is a strict limit for onsite availability and we cannot accommodate additional requests for attendance."

When can I see the Kobe Bryant statue?

While the ceremony is scheduled for Thursday, the statue will be available for public viewing for pedestrians beginning at 10 a.m. Friday. Chick Hearn Court will remain closed to all vehicle access through Saturday, Feb. 10.

"Once unveiled, the statue will serve as a permanent reminder of Kobe’s great Lakers legacy, where fans from around the world can honor him and remember his incredible basketball journey," the NBA said in a statement.

The Lakers also revealed this week that the team will wear their Mamba uniforms to commemorate the special event for Thursday's game against Denver.