The Los Angeles Lakers continue to recognize Kobe Bryant‘s role in inspiring the team’s special season by incorporating his memory into the design of their championship rings.
The team played its first game of the NBA’s 2020-2021 season on Tuesday, Dec. 22, and prior to tipoff, the members of the team received their rings to signify winning the title in October. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are the highest-profile athletes currently on the squad.
Jeweler Jason Arasheben told ESPN that his design for the hardware pays tribute to the late Lakers icon by including a black mamba snake surrounding the uniform number for each player. Before retiring from the sport in April 2016, Kobe often referred to himself by the nickname “Black Mamba.”
In addition, the rings feature a removable top that reveals tiny versions of all the jerseys that the team has retired. At the bottom of this display are jerseys with numbers “8” and “24,” representing the two numbers worn as a Laker by the five-time NBA champion who died in a January helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna Bryant.
“We created a removable top that exposes the rafters that are up in Staples Center with [jerseys of] all of the retired Laker greats, with a special emphasis put on Kobe’s No. 8 and No. 24 jersey, and it’s set on a snakeskin-texture background,” Arasheben told ESPN.
This year continues to be an incredibly trying one for Kobe’s widow, Vanessa Bryant. Her mother, Sofia Urbiet, filed a lawsuit a earlier this month, in which Sofia alleged that she “has been a long-time personal assistant and nanny” for Vanessa and Kobe but was never paid.
In response, Vanessa accused Sofia of trying to “extort a financial windfall from our family.”