When Russell Wilson walked into the Seahawks locker room at Lumen Field on Sunday, he had Kobe Bryant on his mind.
The Seahawks star donned a black Kobe Bryant jersey with an 8 on the front and a 24 on the back, and showcased Kobe’s Protro “Grinch” 6s. From head to toe, Wilson was paying tribute to the Lakers legend.
After the Seahawks won their 11th division title in franchise history, Wilson reflected on the highs and lows of the 2020 season thus far, beginning with Kobe Bryant’s tragic death in January.
“I think that the reason that I wore this jersey tonight, too, was I think about Kobe,” Wilson explained after the 20-9 win over the Rams. “Big championship matchup, everything that’s going on in 2020, to honor him. To have that mentality, Mamba Mentality. The reality of what this 2020 year has been like...
After everyone left the stadium, Wilson returned to the field to deliver a touching tribute to Kobe and Gigi.
”Kobz, you were an inspiration to me growing up,” Wilson said in the video. “You were an inspiration to me in the NFL, and was a pro, because I always watched how you did everything with grace, always worked hard at everything.”
He continued, “You know Gigi, you were an inspiration to so many girls. Kobe, you were a girl dad.”
In a moment of catharsis for the sports world in an unprecedented NFL season, Wilson and the Seahawks persevered with the NFC West on the line. While the 32-year-old QB struggled to connect with his pass-catchers early in the Week 16 matchup, things heated up in the second half. Wilson ran in a touchdown of his own to give Seattle its first touchdown of the night in the third quarter.
Then, he found Jacob Hollister for a 13-yard touchdown to put the game away.
“I think to be able to get to here, tonight, and for us to play for the NFC West championship on Dec. 27, it’s been a long year,” Wilson said. “To be able to go and win this game and have that Mamba Mentality in the fourth quarter and in the last drive, convert our third downs and make a huge play with Hollister there at the end.”
Wilson finished the night completing 20 of 32 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown while adding nine yards and three carries. He walked away with the NFC West crown in hand.
Now that the Seahawks are guaranteed no lower than the No. 3 seed in the playoffs, Wilson and the Seahawks could use all the Mamba Mentality they can get as they look to make a deep playoff run. Like Bryant, Wilson has a relentless desire to win and be the best version of himself every day.
Maybe this season will be the year it pays off.