“We know that he’s watching over us and, you know, it’s our responsibility to represent the purple and gold. Not only for him, but for all the greats, everybody who’s ever come to the Lakers show,” James, 35, told reporters at the NBA All-Star Practice and Media Day in Chicago on Saturday, February 15. “I don’t really want to sit up here and talk about it too much. It’s a very sensitive subject, but he’s with us every day.”
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna lost their lives along with seven others in a tragic helicopter wreck in Calabasas, California, on January 26. Us Weekly confirmed that they were both laid to rest in a private service in Corona Del Mar, California, on February 7.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced on Saturday that the Kia NBA All-Star Game MVP Award would be renamed in honor of the late basketball player, who was an 18-time All-Star and won four All-Star Game MVP awards during his career. The award will be presented for the first time with its new name on Sunday.
James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who are the team captains for this year, will honor Bryant and Gianna with their jersey numbers. James’ team will wear No. 2 for Gianna and 25-year-old Antetokounmpo’s team will represent No. 24 for Bryant.
Queen Latifah kicked off the All-Star weekend with a performance in honor of Bryant in Chicago on Saturday. The Star alum, 49. performed a rendition of the Stevie Wonder ballad “Love’s in Need of Love Today” backed by a choir.
Bryant is survived by his wife, Vanessa Bryant, and daughters, Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 7 months.
Vanessa, 37, announced on Thursday, February 13, that Kobe’s Mamba Sports Foundation would be renamed in honor of the late Los Angeles Laker and his daughter.
“Because there is no #24 without #2, we have updated the Mamba Sports Foundation to now be called the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation,” she shared via Instagram. “Our mission remains the same – and stronger than ever – to provide opportunities to young people through sports.”
Later that day, Vanessa confirmed that there will be a public memorial for Kobe and Gianna at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 24.