Natalia, Vanessa, Bianka and Capri were all on hand for Lakers Night at Chavez Ravine, but it was Natalia who put her pitching skills on display. Donning a white Dodger jersey with Kobe’s No. 8 on the front and No. 24 on the back, Natalia positioned herself in front of the pitching mound and threw out the first pitch. Dodger star Mookie Betts, who himself wore a Kobe Lakers jersey over his Dodger uniform, caught Natalia’s ball.
There was a super cute moment after Natalia’s pitch, when Bianka, 6, was given the mic and was asked to utter the famous phrase the late Vin Scully uttered for nearly seven decades before the start of every Dodger game — “It’s time for Dodger baseball!”
The Bryants weren’t the only one on the field wearing Dodger/Kobe jerseys. The rest of the Dodgers squad also donned Kobe jerseys and they were all in the dugout watching Natalia do her thing in front of the mound. After the ceremonial first pitch, the Dodgers presented the family with a $100,000 donation to the Mambacita Sports Foundation.
After the game, the Dodgers presented their final drone show of the season with a spectacular rendering of Kobe giving his speech following his final game in April 2016. Less than four years later, Kobe, Gigi and seven others died in a January 2020 helicopter crash. Kobe was 41 and Gigi was 13.
Earlier this year, the TCL Chinese Theatre permanently displayed Kobe’s hand and footprint on its public forecourt. Kobe was the first athlete ever to have his hands and feet imprinted in cement at the famed theater.
On Aug. 24 — commonly known as “Kobe Day” — Vanessa announced that the Lakers will honor the memory of Kobe with a statue outside their home arena. The statue honoring her late husband will be unveiled on Feb. 8, 2024 — as in 2/8/24, which pays homage to Gigi’s jersey number (2) and Kobe’s NBA jersey numbers (8 and 24).
“As you know, Kobe played his entire 20-year NBA career as a Los Angeles Laker,” Vanessa says in the clip. “Since arriving in this city and joining the Lakers organization, he felt at home here, playing in the City of Angels.”
She added, “On behalf of the Lakers, my daughters and me, I am so honored that, right in the center of Los Angeles, in front of the place known as ‘The House That Kobe Built,’ we are going to unveil his statue so that his legacy can be celebrated forever. Hope to see you there.”
The announcement came one day after Vanessa celebrated what would have been Kobe’s 45h birthday.