After five championships, receiving the 2008 NBA MVP award and having two retired jersey numbers, Kobe Bryant left an irreplaceable legacy in his 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers. Nearly eight months after his death, the city of Los Angeles will honor Bryant for his “Mamba Mentality” and the championships he brought to the city.
Los Angeles City Council president Herb. J. Wesson Jr. announced Aug. 24 that the well-known Figueroa Corridor, between Olympic and Martin Luther King Jr. boulevards, which runs near the Staples Center, will be changed to Kobe Bryant Boulevard.
The 8/24 date of Wesson’s announcement on Twitter carries special significance as the numbers are those Bryant wore during his career.
“Kobe’s legacy is bigger than basketball,” Wesson tweeted. “Kobe Bryant Boulevard will be a reminder to everyone, young and old who drive down it, there is no obstacle too big and that with the #MambaMentality. Anything is possible.”
The newly named area already includes athletic stadiums and arenas that are home to many L.A. teams. The stretch between Olympic and MLK boulevards includes Banc of California Stadium, home to L.A.F.C., the L.A. Memorial Coliseum and the Staples Center, where Bryant starred for much of his career.
"This is a gift to the city of Los Angeles and all the Kobe Bryant fans around the world,'' City Councilman Curren Price said in a statement. “L.A. streets will rise in honor of the ‘King of L.A’.”
More than just his talent, Councilman Jose Huizar praised Bryant’s ability to cultivate a fighting spirit throughout the city that remains admirable.
“It doesn’t matter what hardships you face,” Huizar proclaimed. “You keep showing up, you keeping practicing, you keep going and yes you keep winning and here in L.A.”
In his time with the Lakers, Bryant participated in five championship parades down Figueroa Street. From now on, any Lakers team that wins a title will parade down Kobe Bryant Boulevard.
Bryant is not the first Laker to earn this honor, however.
Back in 2002, The City Council renamed the intersection at West 11th Street and Figueroa Street “Chick Hearn Court” in memoriam of longtime Lakers announcer Chick Hearn. Staples Center will soon lie on Chick Hearn Ct. and Kobe Bryant Boulevard.
City officials did not share yet when they expect to change street signs.
“There needs to be the opportunity to afford the public input, and dependent on when that process is over, it could be fast-tracked, so this is something that could happen quickly,” Wesson said.
This change is especially meaningful to the members of the USC basketball team.
“To play for a school that’s located right on that drive, it’s pretty amazing,” said USC basketball coach Aarika Hughes. “I know that all of us are really fortunate and I think that everybody who is around the University, whether they play basketball or not is proud to be at SC and also to be a part of that.”
Hughes believes Kobe’s legacy has and always will extend beyond the lines of the basketball court.
“He wanted others around themselves to lean into love and inspiring others," Hughes said. "That’s what he defined as being great, and mentorship and leadership is finding a way to ignite that in one another - and you don’t have to play basketball to have that effect on the world.”