Director Spike Lee paid tribute to basketball player Kobe Bryant on the Oscars red carpet, dressed in a royal purple Gucci suit with the number “24” embroidered on his front lapels and underneath his backa collar. He wore a pair of Nike Kobe 9 high-top shoes, along with purple-rimmed glasses and a cap. The suit, which both references Bryant’s iconic number 24 and his daughter Gianna’s jersey number 2, is a “tribute, honor, and homage,” Lee told ABC7 on the red carpet.
Lee has known the former Los Angeles Lakers player for over a decade before his untimely death on January 26, 2020. Bryant, 41, was killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, along with his daughter Gianna, 13, and seven others.
Lee directed the 2009 documentary Kobe Doin’ Work, and was given access to Bryant’s life for one day in 2008. In a recent interview with Extra TV, Lee said he was “still shook” over Bryant’s sudden death. “Every day is a struggle. You just gotta keep at it, and I’m honored to be representing, to present an Oscar,” Lee said.
Last year at the Oscars, Lee paid tribute to another legendary figure: Prince. The director, dressed head-to-toe in purple, wore a custom diamond necklace with Prince’s symbol and gold Jordan sneakers he personally commissioned. Lee previously told the New York Times, “I win the Oscar on the red carpet. Men, women, I don’t care if they’re wearing 15-inch heels. They can’t be messing with the Jordans I’m going to be wearing. I’m going to be as clean as the board of health. I’m going to be sharp as a razor.”
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