An emotional Trae Young honors Kobe Bryant with jersey number switch

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Trae Young wore No. 8 instead of his usual No. 11 in honor of Kobe Bryant during the Hawks' game Sunday. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Trae Young wore No. 8 instead of his usual No. 11 in honor of Kobe Bryant during the Hawks' game Sunday. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Trae Young never played against Kobe Bryant. Never crossed paths with him in the NBA. Wasn’t even born when Bryant entered the league. Nonetheless, the tragic deaths of Bryant and daughter Gianna affected the Atlanta Hawks’ second-year guard emotionally.

During warmups prior to Sunday’s game against the Washington Wizards, Young sought out his mom and embraced her, his head down on her shoulder for at least 20 seconds.

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With the game about to start around five and a half hours after Bryant’s death, Young stripped off his warmup jacket to reveal one of many tributes to Bryant: a No. 8 jersey, specially created for the occasion on short notice, changed from his usual No. 11.

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The Hawks and Wizards then engineered a tribute that became common around the NBA on Sunday. Young and Atlanta took an eight-second backcourt violation to start the game. Washington reciprocated with a 24-second shot clock violation. Each was an homage to Bryant’s two jersey numbers.

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Although Young never played with or against Bryant, he was one of many current NBA players whom the former Lakers star mentored. He was also reportedly Gianna’s favorite player.

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“All the lessons. All the advice. Every word you ever told me... Will stick with me forever,” Young tweeted shortly after news of Bryant’s death broke.

“Thank you Kobe.”

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Remembering Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna (Getty/AP Images)
Remembering Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna (Getty/AP Images)

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