The City of Angels witnessed an emotional and historic moment as the Los Angeles Lakers unveiled a bronze statue honoring the late Kobe Bryant. The ceremony, held outside the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles, marked a poignant celebration of Kobe’s legacy and contributions to the world of basketball.
Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s widow, delivered a heartfelt speech that resonated with fans and underscored the significance of the occasion.
Kobe Bryant Statue Unveiling Ceremony
The statue, unveiled during a ceremony before the Lakers’ game against the Denver Nuggets, depicts Kobe wearing the iconic No. 8 on his uniform. Vanessa Bryant revealed that there will be three statues in total, each capturing different facets of Kobe’s life.
One will feature him in the No. 8 jersey, another alongside his daughter Gianna, and the third showcasing him in the No. 24 jersey.
Vanessa shared her gratitude, saying, “On behalf of the Lakers, my daughters, and me, I am 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.”
Her original statement, released on August 24, 2023, at 8:24 p.m., paid tribute to her late husband and daughter.
The statue now stands proudly in Star Plaza, joining the company of other Lakers legends such as Elgin Baylor, Shaquille O’Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, and Chick Hearn.
Vanessa Bryant’s Emotional Speech
Vanessa Bryant, visibly emotional, addressed the crowd, expressing gratitude for the overwhelming support Kobe received throughout his career. “Today is an especially sad day for us since Kobe and Gigi aren’t here for what is supposed to be an incredibly joyous moment and Kobe’s legacy,” she said.
“This moment isn’t just for Kobe, but it’s for all of you that have been rooting for him all of these years.”
The unveiling ceremony became a tribute not just to Kobe but also to the fans who embraced him. Vanessa acknowledged the special bond between Kobe and the city of Los Angeles, a place he was proud to represent. She emphasized the importance of the fans, stating, “You welcomed him with open arms and have been so important to him, our family, and his legacy.”
Three Statues, One Pose: Kobe’s Lasting Influence
Vanessa unveiled the plan for three statues, highlighting Kobe’s involvement in choosing the pose for each. She humorously added, “And for the record, Kobe picked the pose you’re about to see. So if anyone has any issues with it, tough s—. It is what it is.”
Reflecting on Kobe’s impact on the current generation of star players, Vanessa noted, “I know he would take pride in knowing that he is still pouring inspiration into the game that was so special to him.”
Vanessa concluded her speech with a powerful quote from Kobe, urging players to “Leave the game better than you found it and when it comes time for you to leave, leave a legend.
And that he did.” As the curtain dropped, revealing the gleaming statue, confetti rained from the ceiling, and the room filled with applause, marking the culmination of a ceremony that will forever be etched in the hearts of basketball enthusiasts.
In commemorating Kobe Bryant through the unveiling of his statue, the Lakers and Vanessa Bryant have created a lasting tribute that transcends the boundaries of sports, celebrating a legacy that will inspire generations to come.