LOS ANGELES: A bronze statue honouring late Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant will be unveiled outside the team’s arena in February, the NBA club announced on Thursday with his widow Vanessa.
The statue of the five-time NBA champion, who died aged 41 in a January 2020 helicopter crash that also killed his daughter Gianna and seven others, will be unveiled on Feb 8 ahead of the Lakers’ home game versus the Denver Nuggets.
“As you know, Kobe played his entire 20-year NBA career as a Los Angeles Laker,” Vanessa said in a video on the team’s social media accounts. “Since arriving in this city and joining the Lakers organization, he felt at home here, playing in the City of Angels.
“On behalf of the Lakers, my daughters and me, I am so honoured that, right in the centre 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.”
The Lakers said Bryant participated in the initial planning of the anticipated statue that will be the first in a series of physical tributes to honor his legacy.
Bryant will be the seventh Laker to be commemorated with a statue, joining Elgin Baylor, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Jerry West and Chick Hearn.
During his Hall of Fame career, Bryant was an 18-time All-Star who led the NBA in scoring in four seasons and still also made the league’s All-Defensive First Team nine times, making him one of the best two-way players in history.
“Kobe Bryant was one of the most extraordinary athletes of all time, and one of the most iconic individuals in the history of Los Angeles,” said Lakers owner Jeanie Buss.
“There is no better place for Kobe to be honoured with a statue than here, at the centre of our city, where everyone can celebrate him and be inspired by his incredible achievements.”