Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James joined the ranks of those honoring the late Kobe Bryant on his 42nd birthday, posting a throwback video on social media of himself and other basketball standouts serenading Bryant on his 30th birthday.
On that date — August 23, 2008 — the NBA stars were in Beijing, China, preparing for their Olympic gold medal match against Pau Gasol and Team Spain in what would be a surprisingly competitive game just one day later. In the end, Bryant scored 20 points to help lead the “Redeem Team” to a 118-107 victory in the contest. USA Basketball thus returned to the top of the medal podium after a disappointing showing in the ’04 Olympics in Athens, Greece.
In the video, which was uploaded by James to his popular Instagram feed, he was seen holding a cupcake with a single lit candle and prompting a large room full of players, coaches, family members and others to join him in singing “Happy Birthday” to Bryant.
Several noteworthy players and Team USA basketball members were shown singing along in the clip, including Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and Dwight Howard. As they began to sing to Bryant, he stood from his seat and smiled as he looked on. In his arms was his oldest daughter, Natalia, who smiled along with him as her father was honored.
Upon finishing the song, James approached Bryant and offered him the small birthday treat before shaking his hand and joining him in an embrace.
The post generated a significant response on Instagram, receiving nearly 2 million likes in a little over an hour after being uploaded. In the accompanying comments section, thousands of fans joined the three-time NBA champion in sharing their feelings about Bryant, who died tragically in a helicopter crash along with his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, and seven others on January 26, in Calabasas, California.
“Rest in Peace to the GOAT and his beautiful daughter,” wrote one fan.
“Still can’t believe he’s gone.”
“KOBE LIVES FOREVER,” exclaimed another commenter.
“Legend….gone but surely will never be forgotten #mambamentality” added a third fan.
“Straight love from one Goat to another Goat,” praised another reply.
As reported earlier by The Inquisitr, Bryant’s wife, Vanessa — who was seen holding baby Gianna in her lap in James’ video — remembered her late husband with a heart-wrenching message on social media, writing, “I love you and miss you more than I can ever explain.”
James and the Lakers will play the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series on August 24, a day that fans are referring to as “Mamba Day” in honor of No. 8 and No. 24 — the numbers Bryant wore on his jersey.