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‘He changed the game’ – Ricciardo explains his Kobe Bryant tribute helmet

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Daniel Ricciardo unveiled a special helmet at 2020 pre-season testing, as the Australian star paid tribute to Kobe Bryant, the basketball great who tragically lost his life in January.

Ricciardo, who recently purchased a property in Los Angeles, the city whose LA Lakers team Bryant spent all of his professional NBA career with, wore the helmet as he tried out his new Renault R.S.20 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. And the Renault driver had some heartfelt words to say about why he’d chosen to honour Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles on January 26, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, six family friends and the helicopter pilot.

“I've never played basketball and I can't relate to that but it doesn't mean I can't admire someone of that calibre and how he changed the game,” said Ricciardo.

I think there's quite a lot of significance when someone from the outside shows a bit of care. It's nice that it's touched Formula 1 drivers

Daniel Ricciardo

“I honestly never saw him play live… [but] I would have loved to have seen him play, I would have loved to have met him and been able to know him as a person… I think a lot of his qualities seemed to be pretty admirable.

“Obviously I was a fan of him and what he represented, what he brought to the sport. But I think just as [I'm] trying to get to the top of my sport, I idolise him creating such a legacy, his work ethic, him standing out from the pack. I think anyone trying to be great at something can recognise that and appreciate that.

“I know other guys from other sports [have done their own tributes] – I think [Australian tennis player Nick] Kyrgios wore his jersey in the Aussie Open, so that's quite a nice touch,” Ricciardo added. “I think there's quite a lot of significance when someone from the outside shows a bit of care. Obviously I'm not doing it for what the image looks like, but I think it's nice that it's touched Formula 1 drivers.”

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Ricciardo on track wearing the helmet

Bryant’s death also brought tributes from Ricciardo’s fellow drivers, with Carlos Sainz writing “a huge legend has left us”, while Lewis Hamilton tweeted that the basketball legend “was one of the greatest athletes and was such an inspiration to so many including myself. I’m deeply saddened for his family and for the people around the world who looked up to him.”

Check out the details from Ricciardo’s Kobe Bryant tribute helmet in the gallery below.

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