LeBron James was so devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash that he broke down in tears when he got the news. Now he’s found a way to keep the late Lakers legend alive by getting a tattoo honoring his pal. The ink is on his left thigh and appears to be a Black mamba, the fast-moving snake that became Kobe’s nickname. Underneath it apparently reads “Kobe 4 Life,” though it’s hard to see through the plastic. It’s so new that it was still covered in clear tape while he worked out with the rest of the Lakers at their El Segundo, CA training facility on Jan. 30.
Kobe and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna “Gigi,” as well as seven others were aboard a helicopter that crashed into a Calabasas hillside in heavy fog on the morning of Jan. 26. They had been on their way from Orange County to Thousand Oaks, CA. That’s where Kobe’s Mamba Sports Academy is located, and Gigi had a noon basketball tournament game. LeBron and the Lakers flew into LAX on the team plane that morning after playing the 76’ers in Philly the night before. Bron was seen on his cell phone visibly crying as he exited the aircraft.
LeBron, 35, posted a moving Instagram tribute to Kobe the day after his passing. Next to a series of photos of the two G.O.A.T.’s goofing around and smiling, he wrote, “I’m Not Ready but here I go. Man I sitting here trying to write something for this post but every time I try I begin crying again just thinking about you, niece Gigi and the friendship/bond/brotherhood we had!”
King James continued, “I literally just heard your voice Sunday morning before I left Philly to head back to LA. Didn’t think for one bit in a million years that would be the last conversation we’d have. WTF!! I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother!! 😢😢😢😢💔. Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation💜💛 and it’s my responsibility to put this sh*t on my back and keep it going!! Please give me the strength from the heavens above and watch over me! I got US here! There’s so much more I want to say but just can’t right now because I can’t get through it! Until we meet again my brother!! #Mamba4Life❤️🙏🏾 #Gigi4Life❤️🙏🏾.”
During the game in Philly, LeBron passed Kobe for third place on the NBA all-time scoring list, with 33,655 points to Kobe’s 33,643. Notoriously competitive Kobe showed how much he’s matured since his 2016 retirement from the sport, sending his love to LeBron. He tweeted, “Continuing to move the game forward @KingJames. Much respect my brother.”