Claressa Shields usually makes a point of dressing with flair for her fights, and with some meaning. Her blue braids, for example, are her shout out to the continuing water crisis in her hometown, Flint, Mich., where tonight’s fight is being held at the Dort Financial Center.
Tonight, Shields’s fight outfit will honor Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who were killed last year in a helicopter crash on the way to a youth basketball tournament. Shields will wear the Los Angeles Lakers colors (purple and gold), with custom trunks. Kobe’s name is in big letters on the right thigh of her trunks, while Gianna’s name is on the left. (Shields’s socks feature images of herself, with the letters G.W.O.A.T., which stands for Greatest Woman of All Time.)
Shields said she met Bryant a few times, including once before the 2012 Olympics in London, which was the first time women’s boxing was included in the Summer Games. She remembers him telling her to work hard and that she was a good fighter. He had a good eye for talent. Shields won the gold medal at those Olympics, the first of her two Olympic golds.
After Bryant and Gianna died in the crash, Shields told the Mayweather YouTube channel that their deaths devastated her. She cried and tried to sleep off the grief, she said, hoping she would wake up to realize it was all just “a weird nightmare.”
“It really hurt my feelings,” she said of Bryant’s death. “He wasn’t just a great basketball player, but he was a great influencer. He was so nice.”