Happy Birthday, Kobe Bryant: Fans Pay Tribute to Basketball Icon More Than Two Years After Death

by Patrick Norton

Kobe Bryant’s death shrunk the hearts of basketball fans worldwide. It’s been more that two years since the helicopter crash that took Bryant’s life with eight others onboard.

And while Vanessa Bryant fights for justice against the authorities that improperly snapped photos of the crash scene, social media is crawling with touching tributes to the Los Angeles Lakers icon on what would’ve been his 44th birthday.

The often outspoken and controversial Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving posted a kind message via Twitter. Irving says, “Love you Big brother.” The guard adds, “The Black Mamba lives on,” invoking the icon’s infamous nickname.

ESPN also posted a tribute video with highlights from Bryant’s final NBA contest. Out of playoff contention and facing the Utah Jazz at Los Angeles’ Staples Center for one last event, No. 24 dazzled the crowd for old time’s sake. Kobe dropped 60 points on 50 shot attempts.

Utah led by nine entering the fourth quarter. However, Bryant scored 23 points in the fourth including 15 of the Lakers’ final 17 points. Utah scored just 21 in the quarter, losing the lead on a Bryant two-point jumper with 32 seconds remaining.

Throughout Bryant’s career in the NBA, speculation became popular in the mid-2000s that the team could trade the superstar. After winning four titles with Los Angeles, rumors ran rampant that Kobe could transition to a career with the Chicago Bulls. However, nothing came to fruition and Bryant spent all 20 seasons in the league with the purple and gold.

The Lakers shared multiple tributes to the legend on social media, but one stuck out in particular. The picture shared by the team’s account reminds us of the youthful nature of the superstar, and how God ripped Bryant away from the basketball world so early.

Vanessa Bryant Fights for Privacy After Improper Photo Sharing of Kobe Bryant’s Death

Authorities related to the Los Angeles Country Sheriff’s Department and other first responders could not reach an agreement to keep the matter out of court. Bryant filed a suit against the county after individuals allegedly shared private photographs from the crash scene with unauthorized personnel.

The trial began last week and roars on as Kobe’s widow testified on Friday. Vanessa Bryant spent three hours telling her impassioned story.

Filled with emotion and tears, Bryant said, “I felt like I wanted to run, run down the block and scream. It was like the feeling of wanting to run down a pier and jump into the water. The problem is I can’t escape. I can’t escape my body.”