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.
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.
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.
With his birthday tomorrow, Kobe Bryant memory looms large in the @wnba today! Teams had a 24 second moment to honor @kobebryant before the @seattlestorm @LVAces#MambaMoment #Kobe pic.twitter.com/oipdVA9EIW— Holly Rowe (@sportsiren) August 22, 2020
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.
It's a great day to play basketball. Happy birthday legend, we miss you.❤️🐍— Arike Ogunbowale (@Arike_O) August 23, 2020
Still doesn't seem real 😞 but forever thankful for how you changed the game 💜♾ happy birthday Kobe! 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/H4WPw2P6hV— A'ja Wilson (@_ajawilson22) August 23, 2020
happy birthday Kobe... your legacy will last forever 🖤🐍🙏🏿 pic.twitter.com/aCXjRExjaf— Chiney Ogwumike (@Chiney321) August 23, 2020
"I was fortunate to have had small conversations like this with Kobe and Gigi. It's still hard to believe they aren't with us. Kobe inspired me with his relentless pursuit of greatness on and off the court. His legacy and impact will live on. - @KayNurse11 on her #MambaMoments pic.twitter.com/oSbO1RPOOG— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) August 23, 2020
May every jumper that flies through the air as we yell "KOBE!"-in driveways, pools, kitchens and gyms- forever serve as a tribute to your tenacity and love of the game.— Connecticut Sun (@ConnecticutSun) August 23, 2020
HBD, Mamba. We miss you. #MambaForever 💜🐍 pic.twitter.com/9odDbfvIzf
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+.
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.
Happy Birthday Kobe! Celebrating YOU and Gigi 8.24.2020!🎉 You changed the game and continue to affect so many lives. A true blessing to us all! Gone too soon 😪... but NEVER forgotten! #24Forever #Mamba #Mambacita #Inspiration #Love #Blessed pic.twitter.com/vIjJsiIqUd— Tamika Catchings (@Catchin24) August 23, 2020
Other Naismith Hall of Famers also chimed in.