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  • Lacrystal Parker

How Kobe Bryant is being celebrated on his birthday (8/23) and Mamba Day (8/24)


Kobe Bryant would’ve turned 45 on Wednesday. On Thursday, the Lakers legend will be celebrated on Kobe Bryant Day in the city of Los Angeles and Orange County. (Micah Fluellen / Los Angeles Times)


PUBLISHED AUG. 23, 2023 UPDATED AUG. 24, 2023 10:18 AM PT

Two days in late August hold special significance for fans of late Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

Bryant’s birthday is Aug. 23. The following day in the city of Los Angeles and Orange County is Kobe Bryant Day because the date (8/24) matches the No. 8 and No. 24 jerseys the Hall of Famer wore during his 20-year NBA career.

Those two days are bittersweet in Southern California and beyond, after the beloved player and his daughter Gianna were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash Jan. 26, 2020, in Calabasas.

Many celebrate Bryant’s life and legacy. Bryant was a trending topic on social media Wednesday, with people posting heartfelt tributes on what would have been his 45th birthday.

A mural honoring Kobe Bryant was unveiled Aug. 24, 2022, in downtown Los Angeles. Muralist Odeith and illustrator Nikkolas Smith created the artwork. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

“Happy birthday, baby. I love you always & forever. ❤️,” his wife, Vanessa Bryant, wrote on Instagram. She also posted photos of her and her husband kissing, cuddling and holding hands.

Jeanie Buss was one of many people who commented on Bryant’s post. “A timeless and inspiring love story ❤️❤️❤️❤️,” the Lakers owner wrote.

Rapper Drake paid tribute to Bryant during a concert at Arena on Tuesday night after a fan apparently tossed a No. 24 Lakers jersey onstage. “Imma hold this up ‘cause we got to show love to Kobe one time. Y’all make some noise for Kobe,” the hip-hop star told the L.A. crowd, which was more than happy to oblige.

The Nike Kobe 8 Protro Halo launched Wednesday, on what would have been Lakers legend Kobe Bryant’s 45th birthday. (Nike)

Nike chose Wednesday morning to relaunch its popular line of shoes bearing Bryant’s name, dropping the Kobe 8 Protro Halos on its SNKRS app and in select stores. According to a Nike news release, Vanessa Bryant created the Halo concept and triple-white colorway and new shoes in the series will come out each year on Kobe’s birthday.

Bryant’s estate initially let his contract with Nike expire in 2021, with Vanessa telling ESPN at the time that it had become too difficult for everyday fans, rather than collectors, to purchase her husband’s merchandise. She announced in March 2022 that the partnership with Nike would continue.

This year’s Halos, the first Kobe sneakers released since then, sold out on SNKRS almost immediately, something Bryant warned fans about.

“Nike wanted this debut Halo Collection to be limited and collectible,” she wrote on Instagram, “but the good news is Nike is working towards more units for future Kobe releases!”

On Thursday morning, the Lakers announced a Bryant statue will be unveiled outside Arena on Feb. 8, 2024.

The date is significant because it incorporates Kobe’s jersey numbers as well as the No. 2 jersey daughter Gianna Bryant wore as a player for Kobe’s Mamba Academy.

Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier is using its Ferris wheel to honor Kobe again on Thursday night. The ride’s light display will be in purple and gold and show both of Bryant’s jersey numbers. The light show will take place from around 7:30 to midnight. The park will close at 5 for a private event, however, so the public will have to enjoy the tribute from afar or online.

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