When Jaycee Horn begins his NFL career this year, he won't just be representing an athletic family that includes former All-Pro wide receiver Joe Horn. He'll also be honoring the late Kobe Bryant. A week after entering the pros as the Panthers' first-round pick of the 2021 draft, the South Carolina product has announced he'll wear a No. 8 jersey, partly in tribute to the former Lakers star.
Bryant made both No. 8 and No. 24 famous during a 20-year NBA career, and other NFL players have paid respects to the longtime basketball icon, who died in a January 2020 helicopter crash, through their jersey numbers. The Eagles' Darius Slay, for example, switched to No. 24 upon arriving in Philadelphia, Bryant's home city, from the Lions in 2020. Horn, meanwhile, wore both No. 7 and No. 1 in college at South Carolina, switching to the latter after former Gamecocks standout Deebo Samuel gave up the single digit on his own way to the NFL.
At his introductory press conference with the Panthers, Horn originally entertained the idea of wearing No. 24.
"It's a great number, it's definitely in mind," he told reporters. "I'm looking at some of those single digits, too, though. See how it works out. My brother was talking to me about it on the way over here (and) change my mind a little bit. We'll see how it shakes out."
This is the first season Horn could've worn a single digit, too. Thanks to new jersey rules implemented this year, cornerbacks are permitted to wear any number between 1 and 49 after previously being restricted to 20-49.