It is not often that one finds himself in the arms of greatness, particularly when still at a young age. While one’s parent’s might count in that pronouncement, there are also times when a person is held by major celebrities like a political candidate who later wins office, or a movie star, or a star athlete from a professional basketball league. If that latter sounds specific, that is because such has been the great fortune of Kiefer Ravena, who as a boy got to be held in the arms of a then-young NBA player named Kobe Bryant, who died last Sunday as a league legend.
It is in the spirit of the late great LA Laker Kobe Bryant that a now 26-year-old Kiefer Ravena, now a player in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) has decided to take up a sacred number relating to the Black Mamba. As CNN Philippines tells it, Kiefer announced on social media that he will change his jersey number 15 with the NLEX Road Warriors to 24, which as many already know is one of two jersey numbers assigned to Kobe from his Lakers days. This was stated on Ravena’s Instagram entry dated Thursday, January 30.
“I’ll be wearing number 24 this year, Mamba,” wrote Kiefer on the caption of his IG post with a photo of his own pair of Bryant-autographed Nike sneakers. “A salute to a legacy that I will forever treasure.” The young star of UAAP’s Ateneo Blue Eagles before being picked by the Road Warriors in the 2017 PBA Draft described Black Mamba as “epic” and “the ultimate competitor,” someone who was able to pull up his teammates in every game, which earned him the respect of basketball fans the world over.
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Be Epic. My Hero. The ultimate competitor. You had that ass 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. . . . . . . . I’ll be wearing number 24 this year, Mamba. A salute to a legacy that i will forever treasure. #Mamba #Mambacita 🐍🐍🐍
Kiefer Ravena’s online announcement of changing his jersey number in honor of Kobe Bryant was a follow-up to an earlier Instagram entry dated Monday, January 27 or the day after the NBA legend, who retired from the LA Lakers in 2016, died in a helicopter crash with his daughter and seven others. This post showed a photo of a Kiefer and Kobe, both still young with the latter a mere kid in the former’s arms for a very heartwarming picture. Ravena’s caption here talked about Bryant as an inspirational figure who taught to never stop and always find an edge in both game and life.
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Not you Man. The world lost a great one. You inspired so many kids to appreciate and love the game in ways you couldn’t imagine. 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. 🙏🏽🐍🙏🏽 #LegendsLiveForever #MambaOut #mambacita REST IN POWER. 🏀2️⃣4️⃣
The photo was taken from an Adidas-sponsored 3×3 street-ball competition event in 1998, when Bryant was an NBA sophomore and an ambassador for the brand before switching to Nike. Young Kiefer was accompanying his father Bong Ravena, then a player for the short-lived MBA, who teamed up with Kobe for an exhibition match back then.
Image from ABS-CBN News