The five-time NBA champion and his daughter, Gianna, died in a helicopter crash in January 2020.
A five-and-a-half-meter bronze statue of Kobe Bryant has been erected outside the Los Angeles Lakers arena, in honour of the basketball team’s late superstar player.
The 1800kg statue depicts Bryant in his white number 8 jersey with his right index finger raised – a depiction of his famous walk off the court following his 81-point performance against the Toronto Raptors in January 2006.
The statue is the first of three that will be created to honour the five-time NBA champion and top scorer in Lakers history.
Another statue will feature Bryant in his Number 24 jersey, which he wore for the second half of his career, and a third will depict Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, who died with him and seven others in a helicopter crash in January 2020.
“This statue may look like Kobe, but really, it’s what excellence looks like. What discipline looks like. What commitment looks like,” said former teammate Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. “It captures a person frozen in time, while at the same time acknowledges that the reason there is a statue in the first place is because that person is timeless.
“We’re all here today to honour a man who represents not just extraordinary sports achievement, but also timeless values that inspire us all to try harder to be not just better, but our best,” he added.
The statue was unveiled at a ceremony attended by dozens of Lakers greats and hundreds of season ticket holders.
“I think of Kobe constantly, and I miss him and Gigi more than words can say,” said team owner Jeanie Buss.
“But today, I’m filled with joy because, in the future, I know fans will gather here in the shade of this statue beside this building where Kobe gave us so many memories, and we will share what he meant to us”.
Bryant retired in 2016 after a 20-year career spent entirely with the Lakers. He is the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history with 33,643 points, and his accolades included 18 NBA All-Star selections and two NBA Finals MVP awards.