In the wake of Kobe Bryant’s unexpected death in a helicopter crash, tributes have been pouring in from around the world. NHL teams lit their arenas in purple and gold, Bryant’s colors with the Lakers. NBA teams took 24-second shot clock and 8-second backcourt violations to start games, a nod to the two numbers Bryant wore during his career. Countless celebrities and athletes paid their respects on social media, a testament to the impact Bryant had throughout his career.
But on Wednesday, LeBron James and his Lakers teammate Anthony Davis took things one step further. The pair, both of whom were close with Bryant, visited Vanessa Aurelia, a tattoo artist based in Riverside, California. Both wanted to put a permanent tribute to Bryant on their bodies.
James shared a short video of the in-progress tattoo on his Instagram story. A photographer also captured the completed but still covered tattoo in a shot taken while the Lakers were working out in front of their practice facility.
Looks like LeBron James is getting a Kobe tattoo🐍 pic.twitter.com/eKI0CtAne9
— Lakers Empire (@LakersEmpire) January 30, 2020
“Mamba 4 Life”
LeBron James has a new snake tattoo in honor of Kobe Bryant. pic.twitter.com/Hoij2jxcwM
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) January 31, 2020
From these imperfect images, it looks like he might have gotten a tattoo of a mamba — Bryant’s nickname was “Black Mamba” throughout his career — with the words “Mamba 4 Life” written underneath. His arms are pretty much covered at this point, so James got the tattoo on his left thigh.
Last week, James posted a heartfelt tribute to Bryant on his Instagram in which he said he was “heartbroken and destroyed” by the news and called Bryant his “big bro.”
View this post on Instagram
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! 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 shit 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❤️🙏🏾
We should get a better view of James’s latest ink when the Lakers, after postponing their first scheduled game after Bryant’s death, hit the court against the Portland Trail Blazers tonight.