Why Kobe Bryant changed Los Angeles Lakers jersey from No. 8 to 24

Kobe Bryant remembered by Coach K as 'leader' of Olympic titles

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During practice or the national anthem or even a game, Kobe Bryant would sneak a glance at the rafters of the Staples Center and see the jerseys of Los Angeles Lakers greats hanging from the rafters. 

Eventually, after a 20-year career in purple and gold, his jerseys — plural — took their rightful place alongside other Lakers legends. One generation of fans remembers him as 8, another as 24. 

Bryant, 41, died along with eight others in a tragic helicopter crash Sunday in Calabasas, California. 

Bryant introduced himself to the basketball world as an Afro-headed teenager wearing No. 8. How he landed on that number has to do with a combination of logic and nostalgia.

Before he was drafted, Bryant wore No. 143 at Adidas ABCD, a camp for highly touted prospects. Add up those digits, you get eight. 

“When I first came in at 8, (it was) really trying to ‘plant your flag’ sort of thing,” Bryant told ESPN before his jerseys were retired in 2017. “I got to prove that I belong here in this league. I’ve got to prove that I’m one of the best in this league. You’re going after them. It’s nonstop energy and aggressiveness and stuff.” 

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