Nike pays tribute to Kobe Bryant at Olympic 2020 unveiling event

Nike (NKE) unveiled its 2020 Olympic line last night at Hudson Yards, in New York City. But the sportwear giant also paid tribute to the memory of basketball legend Kobe Bryant, who was killed in a helicopter crash on January 26, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others.

Six children quietly took the stage clad in Bryant’s number 8 and 24 Lakers jerseys. You could hear a pin drop in theater, which was packed with some of the biggest names in the sports, fashion and entertainment worlds, including Drake, Travis Scott, designer Virgil Abloh, Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas, as well as new Nike CEO John Donahoe.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 05: Models are seen honoring Kobe Bryant during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic collection fashion show at The Shed on February 05, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 05: Models are seen honoring Kobe Bryant during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic collection fashion show at The Shed on February 05, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)

The audience was somber and reflective, and after a few moments of silence, the children slowly made their way off stage, and the performance segment of the evening began with runway models in Nike gear performing a stylish dance number. During the performance, the children returned to the middle of the stage area, side by side with other legendary athletes, including soccer phenom Brandi Chastain and basketball great Lisa Leslie.

Since the NBA legend’s tragic death, sales of Bryant’s shoes have skyrocketed on the secondary market. In fact, the demand for Kobe related merchandise was so high that Nike sold out of all its Bryant products.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 05:(L - R) Edward Enninful, Virgil Abloh, Rosalia, Drake, John Donahoe and Gabby Douglas attend the 2020 Tokyo Olympic collection fashion show at The Shed on February 05, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 05:(L - R) Edward Enninful, Virgil Abloh, Rosalia, Drake, John Donahoe and Gabby Douglas attend the 2020 Tokyo Olympic collection fashion show at The Shed on February 05, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)

Bryant, who began his NBA career with an Adidas contract, moved to Nike 2003 when the Lakers All-Star bought out his contract for a reported $8 million and signed a $40 million deal with the swoosh brand.

By the end of his career in 2016, Bryant had 11 signature models in total with Nike.

Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.

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