In honor of the late Kobe Bryant, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture has displayed the jersey he wore during the 2008 NBA Finals.
According to CBS News, the jersey was displayed as part of its “Sports: Leveling the Playing Field,” gallery. Bryant was a founding donor of the museum, with The Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation donating at least $1 million to its creation, according to the museum. Bryant wore the jersey during game 5 of the 2008 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. While the Lakers ultimately lost that series, Bryant won a league MVP award that year.
Bryant tragically died earlier this year in a helicopter crash that also took the life of his daughter Gianna and seven others.
Spencer Crew, interim director of the NMAAHC, released a statement praising the work Kobe did on and off the court. “As a founding donor, he understood the significance of this museum to the nation and the world,” Crew said. “After postponing the March installation due to COVID-19, we believe now is the perfect moment in history to honor his memory by placing his jersey on view.” The museum recently uploaded a video showing the jersey being put on display.
Bryant was enthusiastic about what the museum represented, tweeting in 2016 that “there is no greater testament to this country than the stories in this building.” He donated his jersey to the museum in 2017.
There have been multiple tributes to the legendary basketball player over the year, with murals popping up worldwide, a Los Angeles street being named for Bryant, and the NBA changing the format of this year’s All-Star Game to honor him.
The largest, and probably most fitting tribute, came two weeks ago when the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat during the 2020 NBA Finals. Multiple members of the Lakers organization dedicated the championship win to Kobe, including LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
If you’re unable to see the display in person, the NMAAHC provides a virtual guide through the exhibition.