(KTLA) — Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant may have had an untimely passing — but his memory lives on in thousands of children who will bear his name and keep his legacy alive.
The NBA Hall of Famer tops the list of sports-inspired baby names from 2020-21, according to research from sports betting site BetSperts.
An analysis of the top sports-related baby names found that 17,071 newborns were named Kobe during that time frame. The name saw a 201% increase, likely spurred by Bryant’s death in January 2020.
Bryant, his daughter Gigi and six other people died on Jan. 26, 2020, after the helicopter they were riding in crashed in the hills near Calabasas. All eight people, including the pilot, were killed on impact.
Their deaths led to an outpouring of community support and tributes, including music, street art, murals, tattoos — and now baby names.
Though the popularity of Kobe as a first name grew tremendously after his death, it wasn’t the largest single-year increase ever recorded, according to the website. That title belongs to Tiger Woods, whose first name grew in popularity by 209% in 2009 — although it’s unclear just how many “Tigers” were born that year.
Tiger returned to the top 10 this year, with 810 newborns getting the name in 2020.
Other possible sports-inspired names that cracked the list include Serena (as in Williams), Marshawn (Lynch) and Floyd (Mayweather).
Here is the complete list of top 10 sports-inspired baby names, according to BetSperts:
These statistics are only reflective of data from 2020-21; other stars have made a huge impact in name interest since their careers began. Some of those athletes who inspired their own baby-name booms include James Harden (“Harden” as a first name, apparently) and LeBron (James).
But no athlete’s career has spawned more interest in a baby name like Sidney Crosby. Since “Sid the Kid” entered the National Hockey League in 2005, analysts had observed an increase in babies named Crosby of more than 2000%. . And unless there was a recent resurgence of fans of Bing or David, the credit for that spike probably goes to Sidney.
That list doesn’t include any variations on the name Jalen, however. Former NBA swingman and current TV analyst Jalen Rose is widely believed to be one of, if not the first person in America named Jalen. In 2021, more than 30 professional athletes in America had some variation of that name, according to ESPN, and that number has likely increased since then.
As it stands, though, Kobe is the sports-inspired name of the moment. So 10 to 15 years from now, don’t be surprised if a handful of teenagers turn to give you a puzzled look when you yell out, “Kobe!”
And what better way to honor a legend of the game?
Visit BetSperts for more information about the methodology used in the ranking, and to see the next 15 sports-inspired baby names on the list.