When Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash in January, both athletes and fans alike were equally devastated by the tragedy. Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said Bryant meant so much to him as an athlete and that he plans to wear a sleeve in order to honor the late five-time NBA champion, NBC Sports reported.
Speaking with reporters over Zoom on Tuesday, Carr said he took some time to think about the best way for him to honor Bryant, adding that doing so was something deeply personal for him and he wouldn’t let the opinions of others direct his decision.
“He always wore an arm sleeve on his arm. I was like, Well, I can’t wear one on my right arm, so I’ll wear one on my left.”
Carr spent the early part of his childhood in southern California watching Bryant and the Lakers play. He was just 9 years old when Bryant helped lead the team to an NBA title in 2000, which they would then follow up with two additional consecutive championship seasons. The six-year NFL veteran looked back on those days with fond memories, saying as a kid he watched every YouTube video and every game that Bryant was in.
“I would tell my dad by the way he ran down the court, ‘This is going to be a post-up fadeaway. He’s set him up,'” he recalled. “And it would happen. I just watched everything.”
A special moment for Carr came when Bryant followed him on Twitter, saying the gesture blew his mind. He went on to explain the two were able to share some conversations as the quarterback got to express how much Bryant meant to him as an athlete.
The quarterback also talked about the Mamba Mentality, a reference to Bryant’s on-court nickname and 2018 book, The Mamba Mentality: How I Play. At the time of its publishing, he told Amazon Book Review that this focuses on “the process and trusting in the hard work when it matters most.”
Carr said he has a large poster of a Mamba Mentality mantra hanging in his weight room as inspiration and as a reminder of one of his biggest idols. While he did not specify details about the new accessory he plans to sport, he eluded that the mantra may be a part of the tribute.
After finishing with a 7-9 record in 2019, the Raiders will be looking to have a bounce-back year as they make a run for the AFC West title. The team will do so in a change of scenery, as they will begin playing in Las Vegas after calling Oakland home since 1995.