Rudolph commissioned artist Dan “Mache” Gamache to honor the late Kobe Bryant by replicating his signature Nike sneakers into a pair of custom cleats. Gamache’s design shook social media as it featured Bryant’s signature and logo on the back of the cleats that harkens back to the Kobe-5s.
Chicago Bulls wing Thaddeus Young echoed the hivemind reaction of the cleats with a series of fire emojis.
These are 🔥🔥🔥 https://t.co/C1cKb6Bf0U
— Thad Young (@yungsmoove21) November 21, 2020
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Rudolph Vocal at the Time of Kobe’s Passing
The impact Bryant had was ever-expanding as many people who had never met the man were jarred by his passing. Rudolph, who has no public account of meeting Bryant, explained how Bryant set an example for him as a father of two daughters.
Rudolph offered his condolences to Vanessa Bryant and her family, tweeting “I can’t pray enough for Vanessa and the Bryant family… why is life so damn fragile! #RIPMAMBA.”
The 10-year veteran tight end has since carried the title of Girl Dad proudly since Bryant’s passing.
Stefon Diggs Wore Cleats Honoring Kobe’s Retirement in 2017
Rudolph’s pair wasn’t the first set of Mamba-inspired cleats Gamache has designed as he worked on a pair of cleats to honor Kobe’s retirement for former Vikings wide receiver Stefon Diggs a day before the Lakers would retire both of Bryant’s numbers back in December of 2017.
Diggs wore the cleats during pregame warmups and even paid homage to Bryant by celebrating a touchdown with Bryant’s signature fadeaway jumper.
Diggs was arguably the hardest hit member of the Vikings when Bryant passed last January, first tweeting “Today I lost my hero” on Jan. 26 and later spoke on his relationship to Bryant on Fox’s First Things First.
Here’s Diggs’ message on Bryant’s passing:
I grew up a Laker fan, my dad liked the Lakers and we used to watch it on the big screen. He never let you down. Kobe was like a killer. When there was an opportunity there, he was going in. When there was blood in the water he was going in and you knew every time he was going to hit the shot.
To kind of hear when I was a player and to grow up and you kind of hear the background of him waking up at 4 a.m. and 3 a.m. to work out and him putting a lot of effort in and consistency into his game it motivates you and inspires you still right now.
At such a tragic time you think to yourself that he wouldn’t want you to be sad. He would want you to be happy and kind of continue to push, continue to grow as people as men.
As an athlete and as a competitor, I love Kobe. I was a ‘Kobe guy’. As a kid when you grow up on somebody and you lose them, I never had nothing like that. I haven’t felt that way about losing someone since my dad. To lose Kobe and to lose somebody that we love so much it was definitely a hard time and it’s kind of sad. I’m kind of shaken a little bit.
There are many things fans can say about Diggs, but one thing that cannot be argued is his competitiveness that he’s carried through his career. He is currently second in the NFL with 912 receiving yards in his first season with the Buffalo Bills.
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Trevor Squire is a Heavy contributor covering the Minnesota Vikings and journalism graduate from the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities. Connect with him on Twitter @trevordsquire and join our Vikings community at Heavy on Vikings on Facebook.