Devout New Yorker Spike Lee used his Academy Awards outfit to honor Los Angeles icon Kobe Bryant at the awards show this Sunday. It’s the most Spike Lee tribute possible. The filmmaker, who is presenting at this year’s awards, is known to turn out a purple ’fit on the red carpet. In 2019, he wore a dark-purple suit in honor of Prince. This year, he added Kobe Bryant’s number “24” on each yellow-lined lapel and onto the back of a custom Gucci suit. “Tribute, honor, homage,” Lee told The Hollywood Reporter about his statement look. “We all miss him. I’m presenting tonight but at the same … I wanted to represent. I want to do both tonight.”
Bryant died last month, in a helicopter crash that also killed his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna. His relationship with Spike Lee goes all the way back to when Bryant still played on the Lakers. In 2009, Lee directed the documentary Kobe: Doin’ Work, a look into the basketball superstar’s work ethic during one day of the 2007-2008 season. In 2018, Kobe Bryant became an Academy Award winner for his own animated short film, Dear Basketball. This year, Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and the other lives lost will also be honored with a special segment during the awards.