Shohei Ohtani: Kobe Bryant Video Was Among Top ‘Highlights’ During Free Agency Meeting With Dodgers

Kobe Bryant captivated Los Angeles Lakers fans throughout an illustrious 20-year career, but his impact extended well beyond the hardwood while playing, during retirement and now posthumously.

Prior to tragically passing away along with his daughter Gianna and seven other passengers aboard a fateful helicopter in January 2020, Bryant made multiple visits to Dodger Stadium and developed a relationship with various players.

The five-time NBA champion helped inspire a generation of athletes, both amateur and professional, and now played a key part in the Los Angeles Dodgers signing Shohei Ohtani to a record-breaking 10-year, $700 million contract.

An opportunity to incorporate a video Bryant recorded in 2017 to assist the Dodgers in their pursuit of Ohtani did not materialize before he signed with the Los Angeles Angels, but his first true experience with free agency brought about a different result.

Bryant’s video was played during Ohtani’s visit to Dodger Stadium on December 1, and it made quite the impression, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan and Alden González:

“That was one of the highlights of the whole meeting,” Ohtani told ESPN through his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. “I was really surprised to see it. It was a strong and touching message.”

There are few others who could match Bryant’s cache when it comes to touting Los Angeles as a sports city and advocating for the Dodgers. Like Ohtani, the former Lakers superstar is a transcendent figure who enjoyed international popularity during his playing career.

As for Ohtani, he cited the Dodgers’ strong desire and commitment to winning World Series as being equal to him and a key reason behind the decision to sign with the team.

Dodgers honor Kobe Bryant with drone show

During the 2023 season, the Dodgers celebrated Bryant on Lakers Night at Dodger Stadium, which included his daughter Natalia throwing out the ceremonial first pitch and team making a $100,000 donation to the Mamba and Mambacita Sports Foundation, along with a special drone show.

Natalia threw out the first pitch to Mookie Betts, who developed a friendship with Kobe and leaned on his advice over recent years. The Kobe Bryant drone show featured several iconic moments from his career and expanded on the Dodgers
previously honoring him and Gigi during a pregame ceremony on August 24, 2020.

“It was great to see the Bryants here. I thought the way that the relationship between the Dodgers and the Lakers is very good. Certainly there’s a lot of crossover,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of the drone show.

“And I thought we did it right. And the city is Lakers, Dodgers. And so to see the Laker fans and the Dodger fans come here tonight together, the energy was great. Again, to see the family here was great, really emotional for a lot of people, I know. And unfortunately we couldn’t come away with the win but really well done by everyone.”

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