LeBron James is paying tribute to late friend Kobe Bryant with a tattoo that he’s unveiled at the first game since the passing of the Los Angeles Lakers legend.
The Lakers take the court on Friday in the first game since Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash outside of Los Angeles. After postponing a game scheduled for Tuesday against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Lakers will face the Portland Trail Blazers in what is expected to be an emotional affair. The team has tributes planned for Bryant and all the fans in attendance will receive memorial shirts with Kobe’s No. 8 and No. 24.
James has his own tribute planned. As Bleacher Report shared on Twitter, the four-time NBA MVP got a tattoo of a black mamba snake in honor of Bryant’s nickname. The tattoo also had both of Bryant’s Lakers jersey numbers and the words “Mamba 4 Life” at the bottom.
.@KingJames reveals his Kobe Bryant tattoo
"Mamba 4 Life” ???????? pic.twitter.com/iZBk9UpyVg
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 1, 2020
Though they played together on two gold-medal-winning U.S. men’s Olympic teams and were atop the NBA for the duration of their careers, LeBron and Kobe only recently sparked a more personal relationship, and it was the latter’s daughter who helped bring the two together. As ESPN reported in a video shared on YouTube, Bryant attended a Lakers game this season with Gianna and they met with James. The 35-year-old superstar said afterward that he wanted to put on a good performance for her.
James took interest in Gianna’s basketball career after their meeting, and Kobe’s widow, Vanessa Bryant, took to Instagram to share a quote from LeBron praising the 13-year-old.
“One of the greatest players to play this game took time out of his day on Sunday. He’s got one of the greatest female basketball players that’s about to come up sitting next to him. I’m just trying to put on a show for them.”
After James met with them, he and Bryant began speaking more by text message and started to form a close friendship. The current Lakers superstar had just paid tribute to the “Black Mamba” after passing him on the NBA’s all-time scoring list in the days before the fatal accident, writing a message to Kobe on his sneakers.
James was particularly emotional at the passing of Bryant and his daughter. As The Inquisitr reported, he was seen crying after exiting the Lakers team plane in the hours after the fatal crash. It was reported that the team’s players and staff learned of Bryant’s death during the flight.