Kobe Bryant’s basketball jersey that he wore during Game Five of the 2008 NBA Finals can now be viewed at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).
The late basketball legend’s jersey went on display in the museum’s “Sports: Leveling the Playing Field” gallery, on October 15. The piece is placed next to a pair of LeBron James 15 “Equality” sneakers by Nike.
Bryant was a founding donor of the museum. The Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation, which was founded by Bryant and his wife, contributed at least $1 million to NMAAHC.
In 2017, Bryant donated his 2008 jersey to the museum. He wore the jersey the year he was named the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).
“There is no greater testament to this country than the stories in this building,” wrote the basketball icon in a 2016 tweet, urging his Twitter followers to visit the museum when it first opened.
Kobe Bryant’s “Black Mamba” mentality propelled him to the upper echelon of sports and inspired millions of people around the world. Bryant played twenty seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers— winning five NBA championships, two NBA Finals MVP awards, and one league MVP award. pic.twitter.com/phwEtjcuN5
— Smithsonian NMAAHC (@NMAAHC) October 19, 2020
Bryant died at the age of 41 in a helicopter crash on January 26, 2020, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in Calabasas, California.
“Kobe’s contributions on and off the court are remarkable,” said Spencer Crew, interim director of NMAAHC in a press release. “As a founding donor, he understood the significance of this museum to the nation and the world. 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 five-time NBA champion earned the NBA MVP in 2008 and NBA Finals MVP awards in 2009 and 2010 with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he played his entire 20-season career. In addition, he was part of the US men’s Olympic basketball team that won gold medals in 2008 and 2012.
Those who cannot visit the museum in person can view Bryant’s jersey and more information about his career at https://nmaahc.si.edu/.
NMAAHC is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11 am–4 pm. But the number of passes have been limited to 1,100 per day as part of the museum’s health measures against the spread of COVID-19.
The nearly 400,000-square-foot museum has welcomed over seven million visitors since its opening in September 2016.