Buss Family Thanks Bryant With Retirement Rings

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

What do you give the man responsible for bringing five championship rings to your franchise?

How about more rings?

Before Kobe Bryant's final game on April 13, Lakers Owner and President Jeanie Buss presented him with a special retirement ring in a private ceremony with his wife, Vanessa — who received a matching ring — and daughters, Gianna and Natalia.

“You changed history," Buss told Bryant in a segment captured by Time Warner Cable SportsNet. "There is no going back and comparing you to anybody, because nobody’s ever been like you. And we’re so fortunate that you were part of our franchise and part of our history.”

In between his first and last names on the front of the ring was a bed of 20 diamonds for every season he spent with the Lakers. On top of them were a depiction of the Larry O'Brien championship trophy and five larger diamonds for each title he won.

On one side, "TWENTY YEARS" sat above a No. 8 Lakers jersey along with the years 1996 and 2005, which was the timeframe that he wore the number.

Likewise, the other side featured a No. 24 jersey and the years 2006 and 2016. Above that were the words "Black Mamba."

Keeping in the theme of Bryant's nickname, the inside of the ring — designed by Jason of Beverley Hills — featured a circle of black snakeskin.

"Wow, are you kidding me?" Bryant asked when he opened the box that it came in.

Meanwhile, Jeanie Buss' brother and fellow Owner, Jesse Buss, took to Facebook to honor Bryant.

In the post, he recalled a family trip to the beach when he was 8 years old. Buss remembered his father, then-Owner Jerry Buss, walking to and from telephones talking to then-General Manager Jerry West, who was raving about a draft prospect named Kobe Bryant. When he returned to his family, Jerry Buss told them, "There's this kid, Kobe, who is going to be the next great player, and I think we can get him."

Three years after his father's passing, Jesse Buss reflected, "I can tell you now that watching Kobe play for the last 20 years has been nothing but jaw-dropping and inspiring to me, and to so many basketball fans around the world and especially amongst the Purple and Gold."

Below is the full text of Jesse Buss' tribute.

"I'd like to share the story of when my Dad first told me about @kobebryant . I was only 8 years old at the time and we were having a family day at the beach. I vividly remember my Dad going back and forth from the beach to the nearest telephone he could find. Jerry West had called him a ton of times raving about this kid who could change our franchise forever. Mr. West had said, "We have to do anything in our power to get this kid." My Dad hurried back to the beach and ecstatically told us, "There's this kid, Kobe, who is going to be the next great player, and I think we can get him." At the time, I didn't realize what the business of the NBA really meant, or how teams were put together, so it didn't really dawn on me how much this would mean for the @lakers . I can tell you now that watching Kobe play for the last 20 years has been nothing but jaw-dropping and inspiring to me, and to so many basketball fans around the world and especially amongst the Purple and Gold. I'm thankful for everything Kobe brought to our beloved franchise and to the game of basketball. 
Kobe is the greatest player I have ever watched play from the start to the conclusion of a career, and have had the chance to be around. He's been a hero of mine for the past two decades. He has heightened my love for the game, and my appreciation for the word "champion." The level of greatness he has achieved is astounding. He has exemplified everything that a Laker should strive to be. The one thing that saddens me is that I wish my Dad was here for this moment, and that he could give Kobe one last hug on his way off the court. I hope he leaves the game with no regrets, and truly from the bottom of our hearts: THANK YOU KOBE! We all love you. #kb20 #lakers"

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