MANILA, Philippines – NLEX guard Kiefer Ravena will forego his trademark No. 15 for No. 24 in the upcoming PBA season.
This is Ravena's way of honoring the late NBA icon Kobe Bryant, who had a massive influence on the young guard's development as a basketball player.
Bryant, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others, died in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles on Sunday (Monday in Manila).
In an Instagram post, Ravena shared a pair of autographed shoes by Bryant, who also penned the message "Be epic."
"My hero," Ravena said of Bryant, who died at the age of 41. "The ultimate competitor."
"You had that a**hole gene in your DNA that made you a great leader. You pulled everybody up with you, that's why the whole world respected you," he added.
"I'll be wearing number 24 this year, Mamba. A salute to the legacy that I will forever treasure."
Ravena wore No. 15 throughout his collegiate career with the Ateneo Blue Eagles, as well as with the Road Warriors.
When Bryant's death was confirmed, an emotional Ravena paid tribute to his idol, saying "the world lost a great one."
"You inspired so many kids to appreciate and love the game in ways you couldn't imagine," he wrote, as a caption to a picture of himself as a young boy carried by Bryant.
"You gave me inspiration on how to believe in the work you put in. Not to stop and always try to find an edge. You were a real one, Mamba. Rest in power."
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