When Ryan Blaney and the NASCAR Community Honored NBA Legend Late Kobe Bryant

Published 01/26/2021, 5:30 AM EST
5 March 2010: Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant (24) shoots a free throw against the Charlotte Bobcats during an NBA basketball game at Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 5, 2010. (Photo by Chris Keane/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images)


On this day, a year ago, the sporting world lost a legend. Former NBA star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter tragically lost their lives in a helicopter accident. In the wake of the accident, tributes poured in for the Black Mamba.

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Many NASCAR drivers led the tributes, with special liveries dedicated to the late NBA star.

Ryan Blaney and William Byron were among the few drivers with special liveries. Blaney had a stunning snake-themed livery, decked in the colors of the Los Angeles Lakers.

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The no. 12 car was covered in a livery resembling snakeskin, with a yellow bonnet fading into purple on the rest of the car.

Later on, William Byron and Axalta teamed up to unveil a special livery of their own. This one was a bit more fitting, as Bryant’s jersey number was 24. Even Daniel Suarez and Bubba Wallace paid tribute to the basketball legend and his daughter.

FONTANA, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 28: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 BodyArmor Ford, drives a special Kobe Bryant tribute car at Auto Club Speedway on February 28, 2020 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

How else did the NASCAR community pay tribute to Kobe Bryant?

Additionally, chemical industry brand Axalta donated to Bryant‘s organization ‘After-School All-Stars’. To achieve this, they helped sell die-cast replicas of Byron’s car and the driver donated the proceedings to After-School All-Stars.

We continue to pray for all of the families,” Byron said. “It’s humbling to be able to run such a special car, especially in the Los Angeles area. I’m a huge sports fan and followed Kobe’s career really closely like so many other people.”

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He left a legacy that goes beyond basketball and has reached across all of the sports world and into many different communities where he gave back. I’m very happy that Axalta wanted to do this, and I hope to make everyone proud in the No. 24 on Sunday,” Byron added.

When the tragic news broke, it devastated everyone. Many in the sporting community loved and respected Bryant, and many NASCAR drivers knew him well.

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Dhruv George

11760 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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