ESPN will release a special magazine issue commemorating the life and career of NBA legend Kobe Bryant on Friday, months after the print edition of ESPN the Magazine was discontinued amid sagging sales.
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The 96-page issue will feature an array of content, including photographs from Bryant’s career and writing from various ESPN personalities who covered the former Los Angeles Lakers star, such as host Stephen A. Smith. The issue was dubbed “Kobe Bryant: An Extraordinary Life” and does not feature ESPN the Magazine branding.
“We specifically limited this to be a test case to do the work, see how the process goes and see if this makes sense,” Alison Overholt, ESPN’s vice president of storytelling and special projects, told Sports Business Journal. “We’ll evaluate when and how often it makes sense to do something like this.”
Bryant and his daughter Gianna were among nine victims who died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, last month. Bryant’s death triggered an outpouring of sadness and tributes throughout the sports world.
ESPN plans to release “a handful” of commemorative issues of its discontinued magazine each year. The publications will focus on major events.
ESPN the Magazine ended its print issue last September after a 21-year run, shifting to a digital-only format. ESPN said at the time that special editions of the magazine, such as the popular Body Issue, would likely be released in the future.
The publication was not profitable in the years before its cancellation.