It has been days since Kobe Bryant passed away tragically and unexpectedly in a helicopter accident along with his 13 year-old daughter, Gianna, and 7 others. While the world is continuing to mourn the loss of someone considered to be larger than life, the people of Philadelphia, our sports players, and organizations have made tributes to honor the great Black Mamba.
Kobe’s ties to Philly were very strong. For one, he was born and spent a good portion of his life in the suburbs, notably playing basketball at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore. In Kobe’s senior year, he led the school’s basketball team to the Pennsylvania state championship in 1996. His father, Joe Bryant, is a former Sixers player. Kobe adored the Eagles and was open about his love for cheesesteaks. Though he went to play for the Lakers in Los Angeles, Kobe still carried Philly with him.
The news of Kobe’s death has sent shockwaves across the country and the world. Former teammates, friends, and fans everywhere have been flooding the press and especially social media with fond memories and words of remembrance of Kobe, not just as an NBA star, but as a man, a father, and a friend.
Larry’s Steaks in Wynnefield was Kobe’s go-to for cheesesteaks. A day after he announced his retirement from the NBA in 2015, Larry’s Steaks hosted Kobe and served him none other than his favorite, “The Belly Filler.” The manager for the restaurant, Moataz Ebid remembered Kobe fondly, saying “He is from our family here. He was a friendly man. He was kind and I was just with him six months ago. He was here in Philly and asked for a cheesesteak for him — like the Belly Filler size and he always got that order.” The staff of Larry’s Steaks also hung a banner outside their restaurant to honor Kobe and his daughter, Gianna.
One day after the news broke of Kobe’s death, iconic Philly landmarks were illuminated in purple, honoring Kobe Bryant as a Los Angeles Laker with one of the team colors.
In the first game for the Sixers since the world learned of the tragedy on Jan. 28th, the organization honored him by putting the number 33 on the floor, the number that Kobe Bryant wore as a player at Lower Merion High School.
The team also wore customized No. 8 and No. 24 Sixers jerseys with Kobe’s name on the back during pregame warmups.
Players like Joel Embiid paid personal tributes to the legend, wearing a jersey with No. 24 on it to honor Kobe, who was a big influence and inspiration for Embiid.
In a time of incompressible loss, the world continues to come together to honor and remember one of the greatest in sports history- not only for his accolades, but also his incomparable character.