Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant is being celebrated on Thursday with a statue unveiling at Crypto.com Arena in the latest example of his lasting impact.
Mookie Betts was among those who developed a friendship with Bryant, and he’s shared various details of that since being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2020. One mont after Bryant’s tragic passing, Betts discussed key advice he received from the five-time champion and revealed they were planning on meeting during their time as Southern California residents.
After the Dodgers won the 2020 World Series, Betts posted a celebration video that had been narrated by Bryant.
As the Dodgers head into a season with heightened World Series expectations and pressure, Betts explained to “Dodger Talk” host David Vassegh at DodgerFest that Bryant impressed upon him the importance of creating a lasting memory for fans each game, via AM 570 L.A. Sports:
“One of the last conversations I had with Kobe was, ‘When someone leaves the field, make sure you’ve done something to make them remember you. Make someone in the stadium remember you.’ Sometimes it takes nothing when you’re 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, just to play a game of catch with someone. Because that kid is going to always remember it.
“It’s easy to be pissed off. It’s easy to go out there, just take care of your job and don’t focus on anything or anybody else. That happens. That’s a part of life, but I think it’s kind of in my character to really try and figure out something else to do and make someone else smile. Usually when you make someone else smile, it makes you smile.”
Betts previously shared a similar story when discussing his role in securing the first career home run ball for Cincinnati Reds rookie TJ Friedl during the 2021 season. Betts took an autographed bat out to the Reds fan who caught Friedl’s homer to facilitate the exchange.
“Those type of interactions are kind of everlasting. I think one of the last times I talked to Kobe, he just reminded me that by the time the game is over, somebody knows who you are and somebody recognizes you,” Betts said at the time.
“Obviously that’s through our play, but it’s another way for somebody to impact someone’s life. I wasn’t really doing it for cameras. I was just doing it because he easily threw the ball back and didn’t even ask for anything.”
Kobe Bryant celebrated at Dodger Stadium
For Lakers Night at Dodger Stadium during the 2023 season, Betts caught the first pitch from Natalia and the Dodgers’ drone show was dedicated to the NBA icon.
When the Dodgers played at Fenway Park last year, Betts leaned on advice from Bryant in order to navigate the emotional return.
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