IT has been six months since the sports world mourned the death of Kobe Bryant.
But for Sibusiso Vilakazi it still feels like yesterday, with memories of the American basketball still vivid on the mind.
And this explains why the Mamelodi Sundowns midfield ace will be wearing jersey number “24” and no longer 11, in tribute to Bryant.
Such was the impact Bryant had on Vilakazi that the Bafana Bafana international nearly broke down in tears when news of his idol’s passing broke.
“I wanted to change before the end of the season and for me, it was to honour my idol, Kobe Bryant. He passed away and I felt like I should use his number and relieve his memories,” said Vilakazi.
”Even though he did everything on the Basketball court, I want to replicate that on the soccer field. He was my inspiration.
”I remember when he passed on. I almost broke down in tears as he was someone I looked up to and it felt like I had lost someone close to me. He has had an impact in my sporting career as I could relate to some of the things he went through like being injured and winning championships and that has also happened to me. You know having an injury and coming back as if nothing happened”.