ep. Michelle Steel on Monday asked Congress to declare Aug. 24 as Kobe Bryant Day, with fans encouraged to give back that day to honor the late basketball legend’s community contributions. “Kobe Bryant used his platform to inspire millions and help kids around the world achieve success and strive for greatness,” Steel told the Register.
“On Aug. 24 we should remember Kobe, celebrate his life and encourage the next generation to dream big just like Kobe did.” The Los Angeles Lakers player and Orange County resident died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, 2020.
Steel’s resolution also lists names of the others killed in the crash: Bryant’s daughter Gianna; Orange Coast College basketball coach John Altobelli, his wife, Keri, and daughter, Alyssa; Harbor Day School basketball coach Christina Mauser; Payton Chester, a basketball teammate of Gianna, and her mother, Sarah; and pilot Ara Zobayan. When Steel was on the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 2020, she drew national headlines after successfully lobbying her colleagues to designate Aug. 24 as Kobe Bryant Day countywide. Now she hopes to make it a national declaration. Aug. 24 has become synonymous with Bryant because his jersey numbers were 8 and 24. He’s the only player in NBA history to have two numbers retired by the same team.
Steel said her office in coming weeks will be sharing local opportunities to give back on Aug. 24 in Bryant’s memory. Steel has described herself as a lifelong Lakers fan. She jokes that years ago she almost gave birth at the Forum, with contractions for her first child starting right after attending a Lakers game. Some past attempts to honor Bryant have been halted due to backlash over an allegation that he raped a 19-year-old Colorado hotel worker in 2003. His accuser backed out of the criminal case amid efforts to discredit her, and a civil suit was settled out of court with no admission of guilt. Steel didn’t directly respond to a question about what she’d say to fellow Congress members or others who might raise concerns about those allegations. But her office said in an emailed statement, “The positive contributions to our community and to our world by Kobe Bryant deserve to be honored and celebrated.”