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Dodgers players wear Kobe Bryant jerseys, honor Lakers legend before game

Dodgers players wear Kobe Bryant jerseys while lining up on the field before a game against the Colorado Rockies.
Dodgers players wear Kobe Bryant jerseys before Sunday’s game against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium.
(Jack Harris / Los Angeles Times)

Dave Roberts grabbed the purple-and-gold jersey hanging in his office Sunday, sitting down for his pregame video conference with No. 24 stitched across his chest.

On what would have been Kobe Bryant’s 42nd birthday, the Laker legend was front of mind at Chavez Ravine.

“We’re all rocking them,” Roberts said, looking down at his jersey. “Representing Kobe for his birthday.”

Bryant died in a helicopter crash Jan. 26 along with his daughter Gianna and seven others.

During a pregame ceremony honoring Bryant, every Dodgers player and coach took the foul line wearing a gold Lakers No. 8 or No. 24 jersey — the two numbers the guard wore during his Hall of Fame career — as did former Dodger and current Rockies outfielder Matt Kemp. Vin Scully narrated a memorial video shown on the scoreboards and posted online. And before first pitch, an old clip of Bryant announcing, “It’s time for Dodger baseball,” echoed around the park.

“Happy birthday in paradise, mamba,” closer Kenley Jansen wrote in a tweet accompanied by photos of Jansen wearing Bryant’s No. 8 jersey during warmups. “It’s an honor to wear your jersey today and dedicated this day to you, Gianna and the Bryant family.”

Sunday was the first time the Dodgers were able to commemorate Bryant, who died during their offseason. In addition to the pregame ceremony, the Nos. 24 and 2 — which were worn by 13-year-old Gianna — were written across the back of the mound.

Asked about Bryant’s legacy in Los Angeles, Roberts paused before answering.

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“Tenacity. Consistency. Winning,” said the fifth-year manager, whose tenure as a Dodgers player overlapped with Bryant’s time as a Laker, from 2002 to 2004.

“Just the compete. Doing things the right way. Really looking out and being a servant to so many people in Los Angeles and Greater Los Angeles.”


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