Smithsonian Honors Kobe Bryant By Displaying A Jersey He Wore During NBA Finals

Melissa Rohlin

The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington announced Monday that it will display Kobe Bryant's jersey that he wore in Game 5 of the 2008 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. 

Bryant, a five-time NBA champion over his 20-season career with the Lakers, won the Most Valuable Player award that season. 

The Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation donated at least $1 million to NMAAHC, according to the museum. Bryant also donated his 2008 NBA Finals jersey in 2017. 

“Kobe’s contributions on and off the court are remarkable,” Spencer Crew, the interim director of NMAAHC, said in a statement. “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.” 

Bryant died in a helicopter crash Jan. 26 alongside his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people. 

The Lakers just won their first NBA championship since 2010, when Bryant led the team to his fifth and final title. After the crash, LeBron James vowed to carry on Bryant's legacy. 

"Hope I’m [sic] made you proud my brother!!" James wrote on Instagram on Oct. 15. "Love and miss you Champ!! 🐍💜💛 #BlackMamba 24•8•2❤️"

Bryant, who retired in 2016, will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in May of 2021.