Were it not for the tragic helicopter crash last January, NBA legend Kobe Bryant would have turned 42 years old on Sunday.
On Monday, August 24, 2020, known as Kobe Bryant Day or Mamba Day, the sporting world continues to honor the late Lakers great and the legacy he left.
Various sports icons took to social media their tributes to Bryant, who led the Lakers to five NBA titles.
LeBron James, the current superstar of Los Angeles, led the greetings by posting a throwback video celebrating Kobe’s birthday with the hashtags #LongLive and #GoneButNeverEverForgotten.
The Lakers, who served as Kobe’s pillar for 20 seasons, likewise posted a video montage of Bryant’s journey with the squad bannering the purple and gold.
Retired and veteran players like Vince Carter, Chris Bosh, Jamal Crawford, Kevin Love, to name a few, also posted their messages on social media.
Teams from the NBA, WNBA, MLB among others, as well as the league themselves, honored the 18-time NBA All Star from Philadelphia.
Tributes ranged from videos, messages, personalized jerseys, wristbands, ballers and murals with anything associated with the “Black Mamba” – be it his sheath and snake logo, the Lakers’ colors and his jersey numbers 24 and 8.
Shaquille O’Neal, Bryant’s 1-2 punch duo during their three-peat era from 2000 to 2002, also posted a video with the caption: They couldn’t stop the REIGN.
Shaquille’s son, Shareef, shared a series of photos and stories on Instagram including his father and late uncle – from their feats with the Lakers to the Western All Star team.
Shareef, known for having a close relationship with Bryant, also tweeted: Everyday is Mamba Day on this side.
Pau Gasol, Bryant’s ally for seven seasons including back-to-back titles from 2009 to 2010, remembered Kobe by posting heartfelt messages in three different Instagram posts.
“With tears in my eyes today… I just wish so badly that you were here celebrating your bday with your girls and family,” wrote Gasol in one of his posts. “I miss you and Gigi so much brother. I will always be thankful for how much you have impacted my life in so many different.”
The 7-footer center from Spain was recently seen spending quality time with the Bryant family prior to Mamba Day.
Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s widow, and their 17-year-old daughter Natalia both penned their messages on Instagram.
“Thank you for loving me enough to last several lifetimes. In every lifetime I would choose YOU. Thank you for showing me what real love is. Thank YOU for everything,” an excerpt of Vanessa’s lengthy and sentimental message read.
In the Philippines, PBA icons LA Tenorio, Kiefer Ravena, Jimmy Alapag among others posted the same video created and produced by sports brand Nike.
“Kobe taught us to be better. A better scorer, better mentor, better father, better champion. Today, on his birthday, we continue his endless pursuit of better,” its captions read, accompanied by American rapper Kendrick Lamar’s narration.
Former Ateneo star Thirdy Ravena’s creative side showed after recreating Kobe’s iconic photograph shot by California-based photographer Jon SooHoo.
This time, Thirdy mirrored his idol by lying on the court and resting his head on the basketball as Filipino lensman Tristan Tamayo captured the moment.
Local rapper and mural artist Mike Swift also honored the 6-foot-6 star shooting guard in a series of Instagram stories. The thumbnail of Swift’s latest post in IGTV shows Bryant wearing a vintage jersey as t-shirt design.
Swift, founder of Pinoy Hoops, is one of the brilliant minds who crafted the giant court mural in black and white of Gianna and Kobe at the Tenement in Taguig after their tragic death in a helicopter crash last January.
Kobe, the youngest of three children and only son of former NBA player Joe Bryant and Pamela Cox, was born August 23, 1978 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
His parents named him after the famous beef of Kobe in Japan. He was drafted in the 1996 class as 13th overall originally by the Charlotte Hornets before kicking off his career in the Lakers for 20 long seasons until 2016.
Kobe was also an integral part of the powerhouse and gold medalist United States basketball team that played in the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics and the FIBA Americas Championship in 2007.