Fans celebrate Kobe Bryant Day in Orange County with favorite memorabilia and memories
When you walk inside the Kolosow family’s two-story house in Huntington Beach, it resembles a Kobe Bryant museum.
Bryant memorabilia covers the walls, tables, countertops and floors. In the kitchen and dining room areas, more than 2,000 Bryant basketball cards are on display, and there are enough Bryant bobbleheads to fill an NBA roster. There are a hundred magazines and newspapers lying around the living room with No. 8 or No. 24 on the cover.
Bryant wore those two jersey numbers during his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, and on Monday, Alexander Kolosow and his son, 44-year-old Alex II, paid tribute to Bryant on Kobe Bryant Day in Orange County.
The county Board of Supervisors declared Aug. 24 as Kobe Bryant Day. The day before, Bryant would have turned 42.
Sunday would have been Kobe Bryant’s 42nd birthday. The Lakers honor him in the playoffs with his “leave a legacy” motto and more.
Orange County residents honored the basketball legend and Newport Beach resident, who died with 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash in Calabasas on Jan. 26. Alexander Kolosow saved that next day’s newspaper. As an avid collector of newspapers, he said the story of Bryant’s death will be as memorable in the U.S. as the day President John F. Kennedy died or astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon.
“People will remember where they were when Kobe Bryant died,” the 70-year-old said.
On Monday, the father and son wanted to celebrate Bryant and reminisce about their favorite Bryant accomplishments, games and moments. There were so many. Five-time NBA champion. Eighteen-time NBA All-Star. Two-time Olympic gold medalist. Eighty-one-point game. Twenty-six game-winning shots.
Looking at the back of Bryant’s cards helps them relive those memories.
“It’s like picking up a good book today,” Alexander Kolosow said.
Orange County fans paid homage to Bryant in a variety of ways.
A shoe collector, Chris Fanous had a hard time figuring out what pair of Bryant’s signature shoes to wear. The 24-year-old has as many Kobes in his one-bedroom apartment in Irvine as there are games in an NBA regular season.
He settled on the Nike Zoom Kobe 6 Orange County edition, which come in a vibrant orange and a snake-like design. They were released in 2011, the year Bryant won the MVP in the All-Star Game at Staples Center.
But Fanous didn’t just buy Bryant’s shoes, he bought into his mindset.
“I learned so much from Kobe and demand the most of myself … the same way he did in basketball,” Fanous said. “Kobe still continues to inspire me to make my dreams [a] reality. It’s hard not to think about him often.”
Fanous said he wishes he could stay 24 forever — and play like Bryant did.
Bryant also inspired Ryan Reta, 39, of Irvine to sketch the side of Bryant’s face. The artwork shows how there are two sides to everyone.
“Kobe was another example of the capacity to change, and how to transform the very fabric of your thoughts and actions,” Reta said. “From the rape accusations that brought his world to a standstill, Bryant understood the immense impact the Colorado incident would have and how the choices we make can change our world overnight.
“Kobe had to go through his own hell, and he had to climb out of it,” Reta said. “He knew he had to change and there would be no looking back.”
There’s also a new mural of Bryant in Santa Ana. Tony Concep, Mikala Taylor and Michael Ziobrowski are the artists behind the 11-by-90-foot mural at the ASHE Society cannabis dispensary on West Garry Avenue.
The mural, completed just in time for Kobe Bryant Day, includes Bryant holding Gianna after he led the Lakers to the NBA title in 2009. It was the fourth championship Bryant helped the Lakers win.
Like many fans, Rey Villarreal planned to wear his No. 24 Bryant jersey and be the best version of himself. The 30-year-old Aliso Viejo resident wants to teach his 6-month-old son, Braxton, to live the same way.
Villarreal, with his son on his lap, also planned to watch the Lakers play Game 4 of the first-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night. The Lakers will be wearing Black Mamba uniforms honoring Bryant and his daughter.
The Kolosow dad-and-son duo will also tune in from home.
“It’s game day,” the younger Kolosow said. “We’re looking to come out with a win on Kobe Bryant Day. What better way to end his day than with a win?”
Peñaloza writes for Times Community News.
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