Vanessa Bryant Releases Strong Political Statement Using Kobe Bryant ‘I Can’t Breathe’ Photo

Brad Sullivan
3 Min Read

Vanessa Bryant, the widow of Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, took time to acknowledge the current racial turmoil by posting a photo of her late husband offering a protest in December 2014 of a similar incident.

The current racial strife is sparked by the death of an African-American man, George Floyd, in Minnesota on Monday night. Kobe Bryant’s shirt referenced an incident in New York that also resulted in death for an African-American named Eric Garner.

In both instances, Floyd and Garner were in police custody and were both being restrained in a way that caused them to comment in desperation that they couldn’t breathe before subsequently dying.

While no spread of violence across the country followed after the Garner incident, the tragedy deeply connected with Bryant. It explains why he wore the shirt during pregame warmups for the Lakers’ game against the Sacramento Kings on Dec. 9, 2014.

Kobe Bryant had also arranged for his teammates to wear the same shirts for the game and was asked about the gesture following the game, indicating that it was a sign of support.

“I think it’s us supporting that movement and supporting each other,” said Bryant. “The beauty of our country lies in its democracy. I think if we ever lose the courage to be able to speak up for the things that we believe in, I think we really lose the value that our country stands for.”

Current Lakers forward LeBron James, during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, also wore the same shirt one night earlier during pregame warmups of a game against the Brooklyn Nets.

Vanessa Bryant could have been excused for simply focusing on her immediate family during this crisis, since the Jan. 26 tragedy that took her husband also resulted in her daughter Gianna’s death as well.

Yet, it’s clear that Vanessa Bryant is upset about the tragedy of history repeating itself and is taking steps to ensure that her husband’s legacy lasts for as long as possible.

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Brad is a freelance writer for, who can clearly recall watching Lakers games in 1972 as they captured the first of their 11 Los Angeles-based titles. The franchise's evolution into a beloved and iconic franchise among its fan base since that memorable year allows for a wider perspective to be a part of his writing about the team's current fortunes.