NASCAR drivers will be drawing attention to their skills on the track during Sunday's Auto Club 400, but this will not be the only reason. There will be several drivers honoring Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and the seven other victims of the Jan. 26 helicopter crash. Daniel Suarez, in particular, will be wearing custom Bryant shoes and gloves.
It is my honor to wear these this weekend as a tribute to #KobeBryant, Gianna & the seven other victims of the tragedy. 🙏🏽💜💛 Shoes & Gloves are on auction w/ 100% of proceeds going to the #MambaOnThree Fund. $5000 minimum will be donated. #MambaForever https://t.co/ZhO5zesLbr pic.twitter.com/jETB8G94SE— Daniel Suárez (@Daniel_SuarezG) February 25, 2020
The fourth-year Cup Series driver posted photos on his Twitter account Tuesday, showing off the custom attire. Each shoe and glove featured the side profile of Bryant while the gloves also included the two jersey numbers (8, 24) he wore during his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Suarez revealed that he will not be keeping these accessories for himself. He will be auctioning them off in order to raise money for the victims' families. There is an ongoing eBay auction for the items. The current bid – as of Tuesday afternoon – is $720, and the auction will end on Mar. 6.
"As athletes, we all strive to be great at our game, but equally as important is how good we are outside the racetrack, off the court, and off the field," Suarez said in a statement on his website "I can't think of anyone who did this better than Kobe Bryant. He was, what we as athletes, all hope to become one day."
In addition to wearing the custom gloves and shoes during the Auto Club 400, Suarez will also be honoring Bryant's memory prior to the race. He will be introduced to the racing fans in attendance while wearing a No. 24 Lakers jersey.
"One of the qualities I admired most about him was his unwavering commitment to his team, and his legacy of uniting fans from all races and backgrounds (including the African-American and Hispanic communities) through their love of the sport," Suarez continued.
"It is my biggest honor to wear these gloves and shoes this weekend in California, as a tribute to Kobe, Gianna, and the seven other victims from the tragic helicopter crash, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Ara Zobayan, Sarah Chester and Payton Chester."
In addition to Suarez's Bryant-themed accessories, there will be several other tributes to the late NBA icon. Ryan Blaney will be driving the No. 12 Ford Mustang that features a Bryant tribute paint scheme. Richard Childress Racing also announced that Tyler Reddick's No. 8 car will feature a tribute decal.0comments
The Auto Club 400 will take place on Sunday, Mar. 1, at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The NASCAR Cup Series race will be televised on FOX starting at 11:50 a.m. PT. The green flag is set to be waved at 12:30 p.m. PT.
Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images