*Shortly before the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened to the public in 2016, Kobe Bryant was granted a private tour through its sports gallery, thanks to his $1-million donation. He eventually handed over some of his own memorabilia, including a Los Angeles Lakers uniform and a pair of shoes that he wore during the 2008 NBA Finals.
Those items had not yet made it into the museum’s gallery, but after Bryant’s sudden death in a helicopter crash in January, which also killed his daughter Gianna Bryant, the museum said Monday it has decided to display his jersey. It was set to hit the museum floor in March, but the pandemic delayed those plans…until now.
NMAAHC reopened to the public in September. Bryant’s jersey, which he wore during Game 5 of the 2008 NBA Finals, will be on display starting Wednesday on the third floor of the museum in a gallery called “Sports: Leveling the Playing Field.”
Damion L. Thomas, the museum’s sports curator, who walked with Bryant through the gallery in 2016, said that part of the reasoning for displaying Bryant’s jersey was that after Bryant’s death, he had been seeing visitors congregate by a photo of him that was up in the gallery.
“People were coming and taking pictures there and sharing stories about Kobe,” Thomas said. “It became a place for people to grieve and commune.”