NASCAR Driver Daniel Suarez Honors Kobe Bryant Helicopter Crash Victims With Tribute on Race Car

The basketball community was hit hard upon hearing the news that Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna Bryant, and seven others died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26. But, of course, the loss has been felt by those around the world — including those in the NASCAR community. For the upcoming Auto Club 400 on Sunday, race car driver Daniel Suarez is set to honor Bryant, Gianna, and the seven other victims with an incredibly touching tribute.

As FOX Sports reporter Bob Pockrass noted on Twitter, the vehicle that Suarez will race in for the Auto Club 400 has the names of the nine victims of the tragic helicopter crash embedded into it. In a short clip, Pockrass showcased Suarez's car, which featured the names of all nine victims — Bryant, Gianna, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, Christina Mauser, and Ara Zobayan — on the passenger's side of the vehicle. It serves as a lovely way to honor all of those who were lost in the tragedy.

In addition to this aforementioned tribute, it was previously reported that Suarez would be donning gear that honored Bryant. The race car driver will wear specially made gloves and matching shoes that feature Bryant's likeness on them. The gloves, which come complete in the Los Angeles Lakers' purple and gold colors, also feature the jersey numbers that Kobe donned during his time on the basketball court, 8 and 24. Additionally, Suarez will honor the late NBA icon prior to the race by wearing the athlete's No. 24 Lakers jersey during driver introductions.

“Mamba mentality is what Kobe always said and one of the great things he is known for,” Suarez said about his tributes, per NBC Sports. “That’s what it’s all about. That’s something you have to have inside of you, to be hungry, to go out there and get out of that comfort zone. Kobe was a huge role model. I want to give back the way Kobe used to give back."

Suarez went on to note that his Kobe Bryant tribute gear will be auctioned off in order to help benefit the late athlete's Mamba Foundation, which has recently been renamed the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, in honor of both Bryant and Gianna.

0comments

“To give back, we’re going to auction off the gloves and shoes after the race to try and donate as much money as possible to the Mamba Foundation. We’re going to put a minimum of a $5,000 donation into this foundation," Suarez continued. "I have opinions about many athletes, but I’ve always admired most the ones who are not only great at their game, but great outside their game. Kobe was that kind of athlete, and that kind of a person.”

Photo credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images