WASHINGTON — After Kobe Bryant tragically passed away in a helicopter crash on Sunday, athletes from all different sports vocalized their support and love for the legend. D.C.'s own Alex Ovechkin carried the honor into the Capital One Arena on Wednesday, sporting a #24 jersey during the Capitals warm up before their game against the Nashville Predators.
The Capitals also honored the 41-year-old NBA superstar with an eight-second moment of silence before the game, displaying both of Bryant's jersey numbers on the ice. And if you want the jersey, you're in luck: the team announced that it will be signed by Ovechkin after the game and then auctioned off, the proceeds going to the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Foundation.
Ovechkin was visibly upset to reporters shortly after the crash on Sunday, telling them that he had met Kobe "three or four" times and that news of the crash had him in disbelief.
"I was hoping that it was not true," Ovechkin said on Sunday to reporters. "He always treated me well."
The crash claimed the lives of all 9 people on board, including Bryant's 13-year-old daughter Gianna. The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department said that Bryant's helicopter was flying to his sports facility complex in Thousand Oaks when the crash occurred.
National Transportation Safety Board member Jennifer Homendy said at a news conference that investigators will look at the pilot's history, the maintenance records and information on the helicopter's owner and operator.
Homendy said investigators were not sure how many people the helicopter, a twin-engine Sikorsky S-76 was configured to carry.
While the #24 jersey can only be worn by Ovi during the practice warmups, the remembrance of Kobe lives on during the game -- after all, both Ovechkin and Bryant share #8.
"As an athlete, you want to meet one of the greatest," Ovechkin continued on Sunday. " And he was the best."