Russell Wilson Shares Tribute to Kobe and Gianna Bryant: 'Life Is... Bigger Than This Game'

Jason Duaine Hahn
·3 min read

Seattle Seahawks/Instagram

After winning one of the biggest games of the season, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson reflected on the influence late basketball star Kobe Bryant has had on his life.

Wilson wore a "Black Mamba" jersey in honor of Byrant as he walked around Lumen Field on Sunday after clinching the NFC West championship with a victory over the Los Angeles Rams. After pausing a few moments to take in his surroundings following the game, the 32-year-old NFL star looked into a camera and began speaking about Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, who died with him in a Jan. 26 helicopter crash.

"When I think about this year, the first thing that comes to mind is No. 8, No. 24, No. 2," Wilson said in the video posted to Instagram on Tuesday night, referencing the two jersey numbers that Bryant wore throughout his career with the Los Angeles Lakers and the No. 2 that Gianna wore while a player with the Mamba Sports Academy.

"Kobs, you were an inspiration to me growing up,” he continued. “You were an inspiration to me once I got in the NFL and was a pro, because I always watched how you did everything with grace, how you always worked hard at everything.”

Wilson then spoke about Gianna, who had dreams of following in her father's footsteps and becoming a professional basketball player.

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“You know Gigi, you were an inspiration to so many girls," he said. "Kobe, you were a girl dad.”

Wilson explained he wore the jersey, along with a pair of Nike Zoom Kobe 6 "Grinch" sneakers, that day to honor Bryant. Vanessa Bryant, Bryant's widow, sent the pair of shoes to Wilson for the occasion, he said.

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"Your family means a lot to my family," Wilson said while addressing Vanessa and her daughters, who have spent much time with Wilson and his wife, Ciara, since the tragedy. "We love you all. For this game, we had to bring the Mamba Mentality."

For many people, the helicopter accident that claimed the lives of Bryant and Gianna was the first of many tragedies that would befall 2020, which saw the start of a global pandemic in March followed by countrywide protests weeks later.

With the year coming to a close, Wilson said he has learned a lot from the events that have occurred over the last 12 "difficult" months.

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The athlete also shared a collage of photos of himself and Kobe Bryant, as well as a January tweet in which LeBron James wrote, "I promise you I'll continue your legacy man!"

"This is what I really found out in 2020: Life is so much bigger than just this game," Wilson said in the video. "It comes down to our family, it comes down to our loved ones, it comes down to grace, it comes down to how we treat each and how we love one another."

"The one thing that I've found out and really understood in 2020 is just that nothing's promised," he added. "Nothing's promised. The good thing is, there is hope. Hope lies in god, it lies in our faith, it lies in a new day."