Rudolph stepped onto the field in a clean pair of specially designed cleats.
The design references one of Bryant’s signature shoes, the Kobe-5s, and dons the Los Angeles Lakers’ purple and gold, fitting the Vikings colors as well.
They serve as an homage to the NBA legend, who tragically died in a helicopter crash with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna last January.
— SoleCollector.com (@SoleCollector) November 22, 2020
Rudolph’s cleats were designed by artist Dan Gamache, owner of Mache Customs.
Gamache has been active this season with his designs, creating specialized cleats for players all across the NFL.
He has also done other tribute cleats, one such being a tribute for rock star Eddie Van Halen after his passing.
For this weeks #CrucialCatch game @athielen19’s cleats honor the legend @eddievanhalen who recently lost his battle with cancer. Design is based off Eddie’s iconic frankenstrat guitar with a @Vikings twist. RIP EDDIE and #skol pic.twitter.com/xyyR7XU7at
— Mache- that guy who does the artwork on the shoes. (@MACHE275) October 18, 2020
Players around the sport love being creative with their cleats in some way, and Gamache has become the designer-of-choice for some players.
Rudolph’s Cleat Creativity
Rudolph is no stranger to making creative statements with his cleats.
He has been known to put together some very unique and interesting designs in the past.
One such example is this pair of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer inspired ones:
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) December 23, 2016
Custom cleats allow for the player’s personality to come out, and it can be a very fun thing for the fans to see on the field.
His Connection with Kobe
The death of Kobe Bryant on January 26 rocked the foundation of professional sports.
Most athletes playing today grew up idolizing Bryant, both on and off the court.
For Rudolph, the tragic accident reminded him of the importance of family and love for his kids.
This is exactly why this week has been so hard for me.. as a dad of two 👸🏼👸🏼.. its all I’ve thought about all week. https://t.co/RwfyeQud8Q
— Kyle Rudolph (@KyleRudolph82) January 28, 2020
He also shared a personal connection with Bryant: his realtor.
Through this mutual connection, Rudolph was able to meet the NBA legend.
In an interview on the Doug Gottlieb Show, Rudolph described how Bryant took the time to talk with him for an hour after one of his games.
“I wanted to pick his brain…. I was truly interested in his Mamba Mentality. After sitting down and chatting with Kobe, I have changed the way I work.”
For many players, this is the same inspiration that they get when remembering Bryant.
Professional Players Honoring Kobe
Since the tragic accident, many players and organizations have honored Bryant.
For the Super Bowl last February, players from the Chiefs and 49ers honored Bryant on their cleats.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to win. Whether it’s sitting on the bench waiving a towel. Handing out cups of water to my teammates or hitting the game winning shot.” – 🖤 Mamba pic.twitter.com/p1BowN840D
— Emmanuel Sanders (@ESanders_10) February 1, 2020
Los Angeles Dodgers star third baseman Justin Turner was another high profile athlete to honor Bryant.
This all shows the significant impact that Bryant had on the culture of professional sports.
He wasn’t just a player on the court; he elevated to something that went above and beyond this.
His death this past January marked multiple days of mourning among athletes throughout sports, and his impact is still being shown today.
For athletes like Rudolph, Bryant represented a persona of hard work and dedication, and they continue to honor him for his significance.