Kobe Bryant’s jersey, LeBron James’ shoes displayed at National Museum of African American History and Culture

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The jersey worn by Kobe Bryant in Game 5 of the 2008 NBA Finals is currently being displayed at The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The display is in the Sports: Leveling the Playing Field gallery, and is next to a pair of LeBron James’ “Equality” shoes. 

“Kobe’s contributions on and off the court are remarkable,” Spencer Crew, interim director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture said. “As a founding donor, he understood the significance of this museum to the nation and the world. We believe now is the perfect moment in history to honor his memory by placing his jersey on view.”

Bryant donated at least $1 million to the museum in 2008, and in 2017, he donated the jersey as well. In 2016, he urged his Twitter followers to visit the museum. The jersey itself comes from Bryant’s 2008 MVP campaign. His Lakers won Game 5, but lost the series to the Boston Celtics. Bryant scored 25 points on 8-of-21 shooting for the night. 

The museum’s website describes the exhibit as one rooted in the cultural impact athletes can have. “Sports: Leveling the Playing Field explores the contributions of athletes, both on and off the field. Some athletes have been symbolic figures of black ability, while others have taken their activism beyond the court to the courtroom, boardroom and the newsroom.

Bryant died in a helicopter crash in January, and there could be no greater testament to his cultural impact than the outpouring of grief that followed. The Lakers held a ceremony in his honor before their first game following the accident, and later hosted a public memorial at Staples Center. The team wore jersey patches in his honor as they continued toward their 17th NBA championship. 


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