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WNBA players pay tribute to Kobe Bryant on his birthday

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Kobe's impact on the WNBA (1:34)

The women of the WNBA pay tribute to Kobe Bryant and how he helped not only the WNBA grow, but also the players personally. (1:34)

Sunday would have been Kobe Bryant's 42nd birthday, and players around the WNBA were among many who paid tribute to the Los Angeles Lakers' legend on social media.

Bryant died Jan. 26 in a helicopter crash that killed nine people, including his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna.

Many WNBA stars -- including Diana Taurasi, Sabrina Ionescu, Jewell Loyd and Arike Ogunbowale -- have said they idolized Bryant growing up and later were influenced personally by him and considered him a friend and mentor. Kobe and Gianna Bryant often attended women's college basketball and WNBA games. Bryant was considered a huge advocate for the WNBA and women's basketball, and many WNBA players saw themselves in Gianna Bryant.

The sports world will continue to honor Bryant on Monday, Aug. 24 -- or 8/24, which represents the two jersey numbers Bryant wore during his 20-year NBA career.

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Taurasi admits she was 'hesitant' to wear Kobe's No. 8

Diana Taurasi talks about her decision to wear Kobe Bryant's No. 8 on her jersey and why she was nervous to do so, saying it was a "bittersweet moment."

But in the final WNBA game Sunday, Taurasi made a fitting tribute. Wearing a No. 8 jersey (instead of her usual No. 3) with "Bryant" on the back, the Phoenix Mercury star scored a season-high 34 points.

Taurasi, a die-hard Lakers fan growing up who later earned the nickname "White Mamba" from Bryant, hit 7 of 13 3-pointers as the Mercury beat the Washington Mystics 88-87 to snap a three-game losing streak.

Taurasi's game-worn Bryant jersey will be signed and put up for auction, with proceeds benefiting the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation.

Remembering Kobe

The WNBA got a jump start celebrating Bryant's birthday on Saturday. His jersey hung courtside, and players -- including MVP front-runner Breanna Stewart of the Seattle Storm -- wore bracelets that featured the initials and jersey numbers of both Kobe and Gianna.

A moment of silence was also observed before each of the day's games.

Las Vegas Aces guard Kayla McBride wore these Kobe-inspired kicks throughout the week.

Tributes from around the WNBA

On Sunday, the WNBA courts at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, featured Nos. 24 and 8, in honor of Bryant.

And birthday wishes flooded Twitter.


Arriving in style

On Saturday, some players arrived for their games in sweatshirts honoring Kobe and Gianna Bryant. On Sunday, some wore various versions of his NBA jerseys.


White Mamba on Black Mamba

Taurasi, who also spoke at Bryant's memorial in January, breaks down Kobe's 65-point game in 2007 against the Portland Trail Blazers for Detail on ESPN+.

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Taurasi breaks down Kobe's legendary 65-point game vs. Blazers

Diana Taurasi breaks down Kobe Bryant's 65-point performance against the Trail Blazers in 2007. The new episode of Detail, Honoring Kobe, is available exclusively on ESPN+.

From one Hall of Famer to another

Bryant will be posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2020. That group also includes Tamika Catchings.

Other Naismith Hall of Famers also chimed in.